Needham urgent care facility reaches daily COVID-19 testing capacity 30 min. after opening

NEEDHAM, Mass. — An urgent care facility reached its daily capacity for COVID-19 testing just 30 minutes after opening for the day Sunday.

A long line of people wrapped around CareWell Urgent Care for hours Sunday morning as people waited to get tested for COVID-19.

More than 100 people were in line before the center opened its doors at 8 a.m. Some people got in line as early as 5:30 a.m.

Within 30 minutes of opening, the facility had reached its limit for the number of people it could test for COVID-19 on Sunday.

People scanned a QR code on their phones and were able to digitally save their place in line. They could then leave, but were asked to stay within a 15-20 minute drive of the facility so they could make it back quickly when they were called for their test.

“I think people are kind of freaking out because of Thanksgiving, I don’t think any of us really want to be isolating ourselves on Thanksgiving,” said Charlotte Fox, of Newton, who flew in from Florida on Saturday. “I traveled so I was in the airport with a million people and I live at home with my parents, so I just want to be sure I’m not infecting them with my college germs.”

Fox tried to get tested at the Needham facility Saturday, but she was turned away after the center reached its COVID-19 testing capacity for the day and was forced to close early.

Fox said getting a COVID-19 test is a small price to pay for being able to see her family for the first time in months.

“I think people’s mental health is really bad at this point,” said Fox. “I know mine is from not being able to see the amount of people I want to see and not being able to see my family for so long.”

Boston 25 News discovered many testing sites that require appointments are already booked up for the rest of the week as people rush to get tested before Thanksgiving.

“I want to make sure my parents are safe,” said Jackson Mosher, of Chestnut Hill. “I generally feel like I’m being very safe where I’m living and where I’m working.”

Mosher is driving to Rochester, New York, on Wednesday. He was one of the first people in line at the urgent care center Sunday morning.

“If I couldn’t get a COVID test by the time I wanted to leave, I wouldn’t go into New York because the spike in cases is so, so bad,” said Mosher.

One infectious disease expert told Boston 25 News that getting a COVID-19 test now may not be the best idea since it’s still possible to get the virus over the next few days before Thanksgiving.

“What I would suggest is that people try to get tested as close to the event as possible,” said Dr. Paul Sax, an infectious disease doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “A person who has a negative rapid antigen test in hand the day of the event that was taken the day before is better off than a person who got tested a week ahead of time.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends staying home, not traveling, and only celebrating the holidays with the people who live with you.