The new rite of Christmas appears to be getting a Covid-19 test this year, with the fast-spreading Omicron variant raising concerns across our state.
From the New Haven green to metro Hartford, walk up Covid-19 testing sites remained quite busy. Other testing locations, like urgent cares, mostly required appointments and had reduced hours and mostly required appointments.
The line at a pop-up Covid-19 testing site at an empty lot on Albany Avenue in Hartford was hopping by mid-morning, despite being outdoors and lightly snowing at times.
Dozens waited in a line that was moving quite efficiently. This included people like Abiodun Olasupo who has plans to go to Nigeria the day after Christmas.
“I have a prerequisite to have the PCR testing for traveling, and it’s like 48 hours,” Olasupo said.
For others, just keeping co-workers and family safe drew them here.
Tim Sylvester said he has come over to the Albany Avenue site from Bloomfield several times in the past, giving it high marks.
“Actually had a cold a couple of days ago, so I’m just double checking, but I’m feeling pretty good,” Sylvester said.
The free testing also brought Mallory Edrich of West Hartford to the Albany Avenue site. She told us she is a Covid-19 nurse at a hospital.
“I’m glad that we’re having more free options for testing, especially for people who might not be able to go to their doctor’s office. So this is a great thing, we just wanna make, we don’t even celebrate Christmas, we just want to make sure, you know, we’re not spreading Covid with the Omicron. It’s very spreadable so we just want to make sure,” Edrich said.
Some in line told us it seems like Covid-19 is closing in on them, with every friend and family member coming down with the virus, so they were getting a test for peace of mind.
People were out getting presents, but also getting tested for the virus at a number of sites still open.
Andrew Bailer’s return trip back east from Oregon has been anything but routine.
We found him in an outdoor line in the snow, for a Covid-19 test after a close call.
“I went to visit a friend on Sunday, watched a little bit of football. And on Monday morning, he woke up with symptoms. He called me to let me know and I’ve been quarantined for the past four days, four-five days,” Bailer said.
Bailer added he did an at-home test that was negative, noting it wasn’t just his friend who has Covid-19.
“My little sister is stuck in Scotland with her husband. My mom and dad, they’ve tested positive, they’re stuck at their house. My older sister and my niece, are in DC, which is where I don’t want to bring this,” Bailer said.
For others though, the free walk-up test in Hartford gave them the opportunity to get tested before traveling overseas.
Angie Mouta came to the testing site from Berlin.
“Very grateful that the site is open today, we tried a bunch of locations earlier and everything’s kind of closed down,” Mouta said
She added she needs to have negative Covid-19 test results before she can hop on a plane to Brazil.
“Let’s hope for the best. It’ll be a Christmas miracle if we actually get on this flight on Sunday,” Mouta said.
Now, Mouta just hopes her flight isn't affected with so many airlines cancelling flights.