CLEVELAND (WJW) – More than 1,000 people showed up for the first day of a mass drive-thru COVID-19 testing site at the W.O. Walker building on Euclid Avenue.
SkyFOX flew over a very jam-packed, 8-lane drive-through, as people waited more than an hour to get tested. Just after noon, organizers called off the testing, turning away any vehicle not already in the line.
Later that day, officials said registration has been paused, due to overwhelming demand.
The Ohio Department of Health asked people to find tests elsewhere.
One driver said, “I tried days ago and you can’t get, you can’t go anywhere to get tested so, yes, very frustrating.”
Another motorist said, “We went all the way around the block, stood in line for over an hour and a half, and then they opened up the lane and let all the people in front of us. So it’s been a little frustrating to be here for an hour, and then be told we have to go around the block.”
This week Ohio National Guard members began deploying to several locations, to alleviate the strain inside Northeast Ohio hospital ERs currently dealing with a surge of COVID-positive patients.
All three major hospital systems are overworked and understaffed.
Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Robert Wyllie said, “We actually don’t have enough staffing right now to staff it ourselves so it was very helpful for the National Guard to come in.”
When asked about National Guard members having to leave their friends and families for the holidays, Major General John C. Harris Jr. said, “I couldn’t be any more proud of our guardsmen. These soldiers and airmen have showed up, their morale has been high and they know they’re helping their community.”
The site tested more than 1,000 people Tuesday, performing PCR testing, with results in 24 to 48 hours.
Getting results quickly, they say, will hopefully cut down on those numbers and stop people from clogging up emergency departments.
Wyllie said, “We currently have this morning, more hospitalized patients than we’ve ever had before since the start of the pandemic.”
One driver added, “We had someone close to us who tested positive so we wanted to get tested but, before the holidays, before get-togethers and everything, before family and everything.”
The testing site will be in operation from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. through Sunday, closed on Christmas Day.
COVID tests are no longer available in emergency departments in Northeast Ohio unless you’re a patient being admitted.