Philadelphia, New Jersey giving out free COVID tests ahead of Christmas

Philadelphia plans to continue its COVID test kit giveaway Wednesday and Thursday at various locations.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Many people across the Delaware Valley were on the same mission on Tuesday: try to find a COVID-19 test before Christmas.

The line wrapped around the block in Germantown at the Lonnie Young Rec Center for the city of Philadelphia's rapid test giveaway.

As the city works to give out 24,000 test kits before Christmas, demand has been high.

"For the Christmas holiday, we're going to the Poconos and we're renting a cabin. Everybody that's going needs to be tested," said Jeanette Hamlett of Germantown.

One of the smaller locations in the city's Tacony neighborhood gave out all of their tests by mid-Tuesday.

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

Long lines for COVID-19 testing as virus cases surge. Dann Cuellar reports for Action News at 11 p.m. on Dec. 20, 2021.

The city still plans to continue its giveaway Wednesday and Thursday at various locations. Officials say if they can get more tests, they'll continue distribution after Christmas.

"We just ask that everybody be patient with the staff. There's only a certain amount of staff and they're working as hard and as fast as they can," said Matt Rankin, a spokesperson for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

As people waited in line at testing clinics, some say they didn't have much luck when they tried booking appointments at pharmacies.

"CVS, Walgreens, a bunch of other places too. No availability for like three days out," said Samantha Rodriguez of Kearny, who developed a fever while visiting family for the holidays.

Testing was offered in Clayton, New Jersey on Tuesday, and patients had their choice of a rapid or PCR test.

Officials say rapid tests are about 85% accurate and are great for people who want to be cautious before seeing family. But there are scenarios where a PCR test might be better.

"If you really think you've been exposed, or you have symptoms, or if you need a PCR test for travel -- then we do have the saliva PCR tests available but the results don't come back until the next day," said Dr. Miles Spar, National Medical Director for Vault Health, which has partnered with the state of New Jersey.

In New Jersey, residents can request to have a free PCR saliva test sent to their house.

But if you want that result before Christmas, you're running out of time.

Vault Health officials say you should request one today for the best chance to get the result back before the weekend.

You can request a test at:
Copyright © 2022 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.