Thousands of testing appointments added for New Year’s Day as Rhode Islanders express frustrations with wait times

East Bay

BARRINGTON, R.I. (WPRI) — COVID-19 testing sites are seeing some of their highest demand ever as many Rhode Islanders and Southeastern Massachusetts residents brave long lines just to get tested.

Emotions were running high in Barrington, as hundreds of residents are waiting in lines to be tested ahead of the new year.

“Friday, we called the state for two testing sites that were open without an appointment. Central Falls and Pawtucket, we went to both of those and they had run out of their walk-in tests…said they had a line at 7 in the morning that day,” said Stephanie Hardt Adamek.

When asked about the turnaround time for tests, Lindsay Ayres of Bristol called it “frustrating.”

“The process is so far behind. A PCR is taking 7 days to get back, meanwhile, people are having negative rapids and a PCR is roaming around and you could be positive and you’re out and about,” Ayres said.

Governor Dan McKee announced on Thursday that more than 3,000 testing appointments will be added for New Year’s Day, and 500 rapid tests will be available in Central Falls. McKee has also directed eight testing locations to remain open for the holiday.

Those locations are:

  • Barrington Shopping Center 184 County Road, Barrington, RI 02806 (PCR tests)
  • Bristol Storefront 655 Metacom Avenue, Bristol, RI 02809 (rapid tests)
  • Chapel View Storefront 4000 Chapel View Boulevard, Cranston, RI 02920 (rapid tests)
  • Cranston Parkade 4000 Chapel View Boulevard, Cranston, RI 02920 (PCR only)
  • Newport Wharf 22 Brown and Howard Wharf Newport, RI 02840 (rapid tests)
  • St. Joseph Hospital 21 Peace Street, Providence, RI 02907 (rapid tests)
  • Warwick Shopping Plaza 545 Greenwich Avenue, Warwick, RI 02886 (PCR tests)

At the governor’s COVID-19 briefing on Thursday, Rhode Island Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander Scott said, even with the continued delays, Rhode Island continues to be the nationwide leader when it comes to testing per capita.

To make an appointment at a state-run testing site, click here.

The increased capacity comes as some communities make changes to help stop the spread of the virus.

In East Providence, the city’s senior center will be closed for at least the next two weeks after two staff members tested positive. Mayor Bob DaSilva said it wasn’t worth the risk to allow seniors inside.

“It was decided that, because of the high rate of infection with this omicron and what’s happening within the state and around the nation, we want to keep our elderly population as safe as possible,” DaSilva said. “It makes no sense to put them in there when we don’t have the staff to deal with them and when the risk is very high that they can spread it amongst themselves.”

He said it’s not just the senior center where the virus is spreading. Other areas of the city’s workforce are also seeing positive cases.

“Throughout the city, we got multiple police officers, multiple firefighters so it’s starting to…we’ve never seen it like this before. Now it’s at a point where, you know, throughout this whole pandemic you’d hear about one here, one there… but now it’s getting to the point where… the numbers are going up.”

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