Holy Moly, it looked like the Trump-Biden election was back on Wednesday afternoon at Newark Urgent Care.
More than 125 people stood in cold, windy but sunny weather waiting for a free rapid COVID-19 test during the Urgent Care’s 48-hour testing event. The line stretched from the emergency room’s front door to Main Street and then down a full block.
“I worked overnight last night, and it was a three-hour wait, and the line extended all the way to McDonald’s,” said Dr. Jack Horowitz, the center’s medical director.
That’s one mile.
The center did not expect the flood of people it’s getting, Horowitz said.
The testing event is designed primarily to help University of Delaware students be tested before heading home for Christmas, but is open to anyone with no symptoms. Anyone with symptoms is steered to regular emergency room procedures.
By midafternoon Wednesday, about 1,000 people had been tested, Horowitz estimated.
The center long has had two of the Abbott ID Now machines that give a reading in 20 minutes.
“That’s the big machine everyone is talking about,” Horowitz said. “It’s the one Trump was using.”
The emergency room is able to hand the onslaught because Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall Long helped them get five additional machines for this event, Horowitz said.
That means the center is running seven machines, with three tests each per hour, around the clock.
While Horowitz said he didn’t have any firm statistics, he estimated about 10 percent are testing positive. The two largest groups who are seem to be are college students and entire Hispanic families, Horowitz said.
The event started at 10 a.m. Tuesday and was to end at 10 a.m. Thursday.
“We’re not going to throw anyone out of line,” Horowitz said. “And we will test the last person in line at 10 a.m.”
The character of the line changes depending on the time. Overnight, it was mostly students, he said. By mid-morning, it’s community members. On Wednesday afternoon, there were plenty of silver- and white-haired people waiting toward the end of the line.
He said there’s been talk that the clinic may offer the same kind of testing event before Christmas.
“But I don’t want to bring it up for our staff just now,” he said.