Rush for COVID-19 tests among travelers continue as Christmas approaches

Nationally, 77% of inpatient hospital beds are in use, and 10% of beds are in use for COVID, according to officials.
TRENTON, New Jersey (WPVI) -- People waited in long lines inside and outside at Cure Insurance Arena Wednesday in Trenton, New Jersey, all looking for a COVID-19 test.

"I just had a rapid test because I was exposed to a patient," said Deborah Young of Trenton, who works in healthcare.

Hathi Blackman of West Windsor, N.J., said, "I have sinus problems, but I'm so concerned with how many people have the omicron that I want to know."

Michael Wegschaidler of Ewing, N.J. was waiting for a PCR test.

"I had tested positive for a rapid test, but I was feeling no symptoms, so we were trying to get a better accurate test done. And nowhere else had it," Wegschaidler said.

While he's asymptomatic, he fears he may have to cancel his Christmas plans.

"It would ruin everything. I finally had off for the holidays from my work, and now I won't be able to see anybody if it's true," Wegschaidler added.

PCR tests and rapid tests were offered at Cure Insurance Arena Wednesday and will continue on Thursday as officials advise getting tested before gathering with people outside your household.

New Jersey officials said they're reviewing plans and procedures for field medical stations if hospitals become overwhelmed.

Nationally, 77% of inpatient hospital beds are in use, and 10% of beds are in use for COVID, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

In Pennsylvania, 86% of hospital beds are in use, and 18% are in use for COVID.

New Jersey's hospital numbers are below the national level: 72% of inpatient beds are in use, and 10% are in use from COVID.

But officials with Virtua say their COVID numbers are rising.

"I would say about two weeks ago, two and a half weeks ago, we were at about 100 patients, and now we're up around 163 COVID positive patients across our five hospitals," said Paul Minnick, senior vice president for Virtua Health.

Minnick says those numbers are certainly lower than previous surges during this pandemic. But he adds his team is noticing higher levels of community spread over the past several weeks, and most COVID cases they're seeing are among unvaccinated patients.

"We remain concerned because the pandemic from our perspective has changed so many times," he said. "Almost feels like it's changing weekly or sometimes daily."

At this point, Minnick says there's no concern over having to stop any elective procedures or make any drastic changes because of COVID at Virtua's five hospitals.

He encourages people to get vaccinated, get boosted, and wear masks, especially when you don't know someone's vaccination status.

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