Coronavirus testing demand up ahead of holidays as San Diego cases continue to rise

People line up for free COVID-19 testing at the San Diego County testing site on Linda Vista Rd. in San Diego.
People line up for free COVID-19 testing at the San Diego County testing site on Linda Vista Rd. Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020 in San Diego. The lines were short on Wednesday afternoon. (Photo by Denis Poroy)
(Denis Poroy)

San Diego County is averaging more than 21,000 COVID-19 tests per day with a more than 5 percent positive rate

Lines are noticeably longer at San Diego County-run coronavirus testing sites as local cases continue to rise and people prepare to travel for the holidays, county officials said Wednesday.

At those sites, the number of daily tests have steadily increased over the last two weeks, peaking on Monday, according to data from the county. San Diego County is averaging more than 21,000 tests per day over the last week when factoring coronavirus testing at clinics and hospitals in addition to testing at locations run by the county.

“We’re seeing record testing at our sites,” said Tim McClain, public affairs coordinator for the county Health and Human Services Agency. “Wait times have gone up, sometimes beyond an hour.”

Around 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, the line for testing at the county-run Linda Vista testing site on Linda Vista Road was relatively short. However, yellow tape snaking through the parking lot and around to the rear of the adjacent building showed that, at times, the line could grow significantly.


Ryan Clabo, the testing project manager for the county said the Linda Vista site has been among the busiest.

“We’ve had a line up to a two-hour wait depending on what part of the day (it is),” Clabo said. “This site is doing 1,200 plus tests a day. All of our testing sites are seeing an increase of numbers — almost double — at pretty much every site we run.”

The increased testing comes as the county is reporting record coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

However, Clabo said, those extra tests aren’t only a reflection of the ongoing spread of the virus in the community — holiday plans are also having an impact as people are getting tested ahead of travel and family gatherings.

“We’re seeing people that are coming in to try to get a negative test in order to travel safely,” Clabo said. “We also have seen an increase since we slipped back into the purple (tier). We have an increase of people wanting to test to try to get us out of the purple. You really have a mixture of both.”

Clabo said results to tests typically are back in two to four days. However, a negative test doesn’t necessarily mean a person doesn’t have the virus — testing too soon after initial exposure can result in false negative results. Research shows people infected with the virus can have too little of it in their system to be detected.

Once at the front of the line, testing happens quickly — people are in and out in a few minutes.

Stacy Smith, 46, of San Diego, said the test was easy. She said she isn’t planning on traveling for the holiday but that she had cold symptoms recently. With two small children at 比特币交易网home, she said it was important to get tested.


“I’d rather know than not,” she said.

Elizabeth Goldsmith, 19, a tennis player at the University of San Diego, said she decided to get tested after moving back to her San Diego 比特币交易网home from the USD dorms.

“For Thanksgiving, I just came to get tested because of my dad,” Goldsmith said, saying her father might be more susceptible to the virus. “I just wanted to make sure that I’m safe.”

Goldsmith said her Thanksgiving plans only involved her and her parents — no travel.


While several county sites will close Thursday for Thanksgiving, three will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Those are the former USD Electronics Recycling Center on Linda Vista Road, the Tubman-Chavez Community Center on Euclid Avenue and at Cal State University San Marcos in San Marcos. No appointment is required.