Health care companies ask for patience as testing demand soars

Health experts are telling people to get tested ahead of the holidays and many are listening. Lines are long, and health care companies are asking people to be patient.

[StarMed’s west Charlotte clinic will be open Christmas Day for COVID-19 testing]

StarMed, a partner with Mecklenburg County in west Charlotte, has been Charlotte’s most consistent and convenient source for testing for nearly two years.

With Christmas approaching, StarMed CEO Dr. Michael Estramonte says the demand for testing has soared.

“Within the last seven days, our testing has quadrupled from the week before,” he said.

It’s not uncommon to see lines stretch around the parking lot, with wait times from 30 minutes to a few hours. The Tuckaseegee location is popular for many Mecklenburg County residents.

StarMed has numerous other test sites and is encouraging people to check them out. They may have shorter wait times.

(Watch below: People line up to get vaccinated and tested for COVID-19 before Christmas)

Other than StarMed, free testing in Mecklenburg County can be hard to come by. Health Director Gibbie Harris says so much focus was on vaccines, for other health care providers, testing took a backseat.

“Testing needs to be important,” she said. “We’re starting to recognize that again.”

Testing has always been a priority for StarMed. Estramonte says they planned for the surge.

“We decided in the summertime that we were going to plan as if it was going to be busy this winter and if it wasn’t we would make the necessary adjustments,” he said. “We wanted to make sure we are ready.”

StarMed will be open on Christmas from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for testing and Regeneron antibody therapy.