Some Bay Area families wait 7+ hours for PCR COVID testing as stores sell out of at-home tests

NEWARK, Calif. (KGO) -- Desperate attempts Sunday night to try to get PCR COVID tests as the holiday weekend wraps up, there are reports of seven-hour long lines in the East Bay city of Newark.

This as rapid home kits have become very hard to find at stores.

Experts are weighing in on the topic too saying that timing is everything and something that can have significant impacts on test results.

Massive lines outside the Newpark Mall in Newark could be seen Sunday night with hundreds trying to get COVID tests as the holidays come to a close.

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"My daughter and I trying to get a PCR test since 2:30 p.m. this afternoon. We're still in line," says Laili Bosma. In total Bosma and her daughter waited seven hours to get to the front of the line. While many have opted for Rapid COVID tests to avoid this, even that has created challenges.

"Couldn't even get to a rapid test because they were all sold out," said Shannon Jaeger who has been quarantining over the holidays after a positive test result.

Then there's the concern over the accuracy of the rapid test. Something voiced by dozens of viewers on reporter J.R. Stone's Facebook page.

Natalie Allen wrote, "My husband tested negative from a home test, same day tested positive from hospital test."

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The demand for COVID-19 testing has surged as President Biden is making 500 million free rapid tests available to Americans next month.



UCSF's Dr. Peter Chin-Hong says that's because rapid tests produce the best results when virus levels in the body is highest.

"Early in the disease the PCR test is going to be more sensitive, that is why you should wait at least three days until after the exposure to do the rapid test," says Chin-Hong.

As to getting an appointment for a PCR test, Sunday night lines are proof that that is no easy task.

"Almost an hour and a half to get through the line at Kaiser and getting an appointment at Kaiser was just murder," says Jaeger.

RELATED: Marin Co. family spending $1,500 to COVID test guests ahead of New Year's party

10-year-old Arlo McKee and his grandma, of Santa Rosa, tried to get a test at four different locations Sunday and failed.

"Their website had crashed so I couldn't go to that one. Next one ended up being closed. The nurse couldn't come at the third one," said Arlo who continued by referencing the fourth location saying, "They didn't have any appointment scheduled so we looked for more and there was nothing left."

Meaning it's back to searching for any type of test possible come Monday.

As for the turnaround time on PCR tests, Quest Diagnostics, one of the largest testing companies in the country, tells ABC their turnaround time for results has now stretched to 2-3 days, on average. Other companies offering COVID testing have already reported even longer average turnaround times: last week, CityMD reported their current turnaround time is averaging 5-7 days due to increased testing.

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