PHOENIX — Lines wrapped down the street at testing sites across the Valley on Saturday with many people trying to get a negative test result ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.
ABC15 Arizona visited the City of Phoenix's free COVID-19 Mobile Testing Van that provides rapid test results. On Saturday, the van was parked near the I-10 and Elliot Road for walk-ins and appointments.
"I had a friend say, 'It's like Chick-fil-A on Saturday at 12 o'clock,'" laughed Bruce Wilson. "So, that was my thought. I was like, 'Yeah, this is going to take long, but it's worth it.'"
Wilson and his wife, Ashley, made an appointment online for their rapid test to get peace of mind.
"It's nice that it's so quick and that way we can figure out what we're going to do, if we can get back to our lives or if we have to isolate," said Ashley Wilson. "So, it was good."
"They get a nasal swab and then they get an antibody test and results are given within 15 to 20 minutes," explained Dr. Vershalee Shukla, the Vincere Cancer Center Co-Founder, and a Radiation Oncologist.
Dr. Shukla said it is great to see the community caring about their COVID status. The more a person knows, the better and safer decisions they can make.
Dr. Shukla said, since the van started operating in August - they have tested 20,000 people. They expected about 450 people to show up on Saturday. In the beginning of testing, the percent positivity rate was between 2 - 5%. However, it is now around 20%.
"I expect to see this rate of patients coming to get tested up until the holidays," said Registered Nurse Jennifer Mayer. "Just because people are traveling and being with their loved ones."
Mayer has been working with the testing van for more than 100 days and has only taken one weekend off.
While she is also thrilled to see so many people wanting to be tested, she wants everyone to know - a negative test does not mean a person should stop social distancing and being cautious.
"You're negative at the moment you get your test results," Mayer explained. "You can leave the testing site, say go to the grocery store, get exposed, and then contract the virus. So, I do explain to patients, if they do have any symptoms or they've been in contact with anyone that may have had COVID, please come back and we will test you again for free."
As for the Wilson family, regardless of their test results, they are planning on staying home this Thanksgiving.
"We decided that we're going to do everything we can to protect the people around us."
If you are interested in getting a free rapid COVID test, you can make an appointment here.