Record-number of COVID-19 testing leads to long lines outside RI Convention Center


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Rows of cars left a good portion of West Exchange Street nearly impassible Thursday afternoon as people waited to get tested for COVID-19 at the Rhode Island Convention Center.

12 News received several reports of long wait times at the testing site and traffic backing up well past the intersection between West Exchange and Sabin streets.

Joseph Wendelken, spokesperson for the Rhode Island Department of Health, said those long lines were expected, as the state administered a record number of tests. On Thursday alone, he said more than 19,000 Rhode Islanders were tested.

Wendelken said two other factors also attributed to the excessive wait times.

“We do sometimes have experiences where people will show up without making an appointment, or show up at a different time than when they made their appointment,” he said.

Those who did make their appointments correctly tell 12 News the state should open more testing sites to lessen the wait time and ease traffic congestion.

“We need to have more places, more placed to get tested,” Providence resident Janelly Tejeda said.
That way, people don’t have to wait so long.”

Rhode Island Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said right now, there are five general testing sites statewide, and there are plans in the works to open more.

“We’re opening up an additional site for testing and we’ve added focus on our communities highest hit,” Alexander-Scott said.

During her weekly coronavirus briefing, Gov. Gina Raimondo also unveiled a new way for Rhode Islanders to receive their test results. She said anyone who’s tested will now receive their results through a new online portal, no matter where or how the test was administered.

Previously, test results were obtained through a variety of methods including by phone, on the website of the private lab that ran the test, or on the website of the test provider.

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