By the time they opened, these COVID-19 testing centres had full lineups
KITCHENER -- It's becoming a familiar story for those wanting to get tested for COVID-19: an early morning to get in line at one of the region's testing centres, where lines are being capped before they even open.
Such was the case on Wednesday morning at two of the region's assessment centres. More than 100 people were in line at the St. Mary's General Hospital testing centre on Bathurst Drive in Waterloo by 9 a.m., when the centre opens.
"St. Mary's COVID Testing Clinic is currently experiencing high demand and would like to prioritize those who have symptoms or who have been directed for testing," the hospital said on Twitter just after 6 a.m.
"If this does not apply to you we would appreciate if you could come another day or call 519-885-9517 to book the next available appointment."
By the time the first person was going inside to get their test on Wednesday, the line had already been capped: security and those who were turned away told CTV Kitchener that the centre had their entire daily limit in line.
For an assessment centre that's open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., that means the person at the end of the line could have an eight hour wait ahead to get their COVID-19 test.
The waits have become so long that officials are asking people to bring a lunch, water, games and chairs to make their wait more comfortable.
"You can bring some activities for your children, food and water to keep yourselves comfortable while you're waiting, but also be as patient as possible," said Sarah Sullivan, Grand River Hospital's test site operations manager, earlier this week.
"Our staff are working as diligently and hard as they possibly can to get everybody through."
It's a similar story for the drive-thru testing clinic in Kitchener. Grand River Hospital's assessment centre on Glasgow Street reached its capacity by 7:15 a.m., 15 minutes before staff starts testing there.
Another 100 or more cars were lined up outside of the testing clinic on Wednesday, some arriving as early as 2 a.m. to ensure they secured a spot.
Two hours later, the testing centre had closed altogether because of "safety concerns" for staff and patients.
The issue isn't confined to Waterloo Region, either. Last week, Premier Doug Ford faced questions about long lineups in the Greater Toronto Area, especially in Etobicoke.
New Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole also bashed the testing system after he and were turned away from an at-capacity Ottawa testing centre last week.
He and his wife have since tested positive for COVID-19.