Omicron variant creates tidal wave of demand for COVID testing, booster shots

The Philly Health Department says if you're exposed to COVID or have symptoms and you can't get tested, be sure to quarantine.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The omicron variant has created a tidal wave of demand for COVID-19 testing and booster shots.

Outside the Dr. Ala Stanford Center for Health Equity in North Philadelphia, the line was long Monday morning as people scrambled to get tested.

"We tried all the major pharmacies, we couldn't find anything. No one has rapid tests, or in-person tests, or the home test kits," said Hannah Benenson of South Philadelphia.

Vicky Miles chose a one-day-only pop-up testing and booster event because it was all she could find to get tested quickly.

"There was a little bit of a line but everyone was orderly. The staff was very helpful," said Miles.

SEE ALSO: Finding your nearest COVID-19 testing site in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware

Dr. Ala Stanford runs the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium. She says the demand has been overwhelming but she and her staff soldier on.

"We are busy, our spirits are high though. Just trying to serve the city of Philadelphia," said Stanford.

Stanford says her last pop-up testing event saw roughly 30% of people tested come back positive.

"The service is needed. We need everybody, every hospital, every urgent care, the city health department to do their part. We are over a million people," Stanford added.

More of these sites will open in the days and weeks ahead.

SEE ALSO: CDC cuts isolation restrictions for those who catch COVID, recommends shorter quarantine for all
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The decision also was driven by a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, propelled by the omicron variant.

At the Springfield Mall, another pop-up testing site was packed Monday morning.

A check on the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Health Department sites reveal that getting a booster shot could take a week or two. Some locations allow online booking, others require a phone call.

President Joe Biden met with governors on Monday to discuss the rollout of at-home test kits, but specifics on how to get one likely won't be available for a week or two.

"We are now able to purchase 500 million at-home rapid tests to be sent to the American people for free that are requested," said Biden.

The Philadelphia Health Department says if you're exposed to COVID or have symptoms and you can't get tested, be sure to quarantine.

Officials stress to only go to the emergency room if you are ill and need attention. Do not go to just get tested.

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