Line ups and long wait times as demand for COVID-19 tests increases in Waterloo Region
KITCHENER -- There are longer lines and increased wait times for COVID-19 tests in Waterloo Region as the province braces for the possibility of a second wave.
Hospitals in the region said a recent increase in cases has put extra pressure on testing sites.
Staff at Kitchener's drive-thru testing site said they tested more than 500 people on Wednesday and had to turn some away after reaching their maximum capacity.
"We go to Laurier, just to be safe because of the Western outbreak," said Sellah Penteliuk, who was waiting in line for a test. "We're all kind of nervous it's going to happen."
She was anticipating a long wait for her test.
"Like two and a half to three hours, I think," she said.
Wait times are getting longer at the drive-thru clinic.
"Right now our wait's about two hours and that's unusual," said Sarah Sullivan, the site's manager. "Normally when our volumes are lower, it's anywhere from half an hour to 45 minutes if the lot behind me is full. But, we are using an overflow lot right now, just because of the volume of cars, just to keep them off the main road."
Sullivan said there's been a steady increase in the number of people coming for testing since the beginning of September.
"We anticipated low- to mid-300s," Sullivan said. "We doubled capacity here. (Tuesday) we saw 641 patients."
It's a similar situation at St. Mary's General Hospital and Cambridge Memorial Hospital. Officials at the COVID-19 testing sites there said they've seen a dramatic increase in the number of daily tests.
"We were seeing about 50 to 60 on any given day," said Stephanie Pearsall, the COVID-19 testing lead at St. Mary's. "Now we are consistently seeing over 100."
"We had to hire more staff to help accommodate the volume," Julia Ropotyn at Cambridge Memorial said.
The hospitals attribute the increased demand to students heading back to school.
"Staff at the schools and patients and families and children wanting the reassurance whether or not they have the virus," Sullivan said.
Officials said the long lines will likely stick around for a while as the province prepares for a possible second wave. Despite the increase in testing, the hospitals don't think it will put a strain on resources.