Tempe COVID testing site temporarily closed as demand skyrockets

Testing site traffic.png
Posted at 8:39 PM, Jan 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-08 00:29:46-05

TEMPE, AZ — The people in line for a COVID test with Embry Health in Tempe - also got a test for their patience on Friday.

The line for the test at one Tempe location near Price Road and Southern Avenue snaked through a neighborhood for just under a mile and kept some waiting anywhere from two to five hours.

“I’m shocked because I don’t think they would have taken an appointment if it was going to be three hours later,” said Alice Hoppis.

Burke Files who lives across from Embry’s testing site said his cul-de-sac off Malibu Drive put up a sign that read, "DO NOT BLOCK STREET. NO TESTING SITE TRAFFIC THX."

He said the snake of cars he saw in his neighborhood for the first week of the new year delayed trash pick up, caused concern for kids trying to get on the school bus, and created hostility for those just wanting to get to their driveway.

“They’re making it their neighborhood man, and they’re not making their customers very happy,” said Files.

ABC15 spoke to Raymond Embry, the CEO of Embry Health by phone Friday who said they temporarily shut down this Tempe location due to staffing issues and high demand.

Our cameras caught patients being turned away from the Tempe testing site.

Some of those patients told us they were asked to go to Mesa Community College for testing.

The testing demand hit a new peak for Embry Health on Friday with more than 40,000 tests across the state at its locations. That's the highest daily total Embry has seen since the start of the COVID pandemic.

Embry told us moving forward, they're working to best determine how to schedule appointments, so it doesn't create traffic jams.

The CEO said to think of Embry as an airline provider dealing with the same challenges you saw during the holiday with pandemic-related staffing shortages and high demand.

In an effort to try and get more staff, Embry said they’ve increased wages from $15 an hour to $20 an hour and included a $200 starting bonus after the first 40 hours worked.