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Long Lines For COVID Testing As Cases Rise Ahead Of Christmas

BOSTON (CBS) - The line for COVID-19 testing stretched around the block outside Tufts Medical Center on Monday. People paced Tremont Street for more than three hours.

"There are so few available at drug stores that this basically ended up being my only option if I want to see my family for Christmas," said Louise Lyall, a law school student who said she needed a test before traveling home.

It was a similar scene in testing locations around Massachusetts over the weekend and on Monday. Randolph Police put out an alert warning of traffic issues related to a drive-up testing location there.

According to the latest state data, Massachusetts saw roughly 6,000 new COVID-19 cases on December 17, 2021, approximately 1,000 more cases than the same time last year. The state also performed roughly 20,000 more tests this year.

Experts say the surge the state is experiencing is not just a phenomenon of extra testing. There is more COVID in the community.

"We have approximately the same case numbers and unfortunately, we are approaching the same number of hospitalizations," Dr. Paul Sax, Clinical Director of the Infectious Disease Clinic at Brigham and Women's Hospital said. "In addition, we follow something called the wastewater concentrations of SARS COV2 which is the amount of virus that's in our sewage and it's just as high as it was last year, if not a bit higher."

Sax says the Omicron variant is already contributing to the surge.

"There have been some estimates of how much omicron is here based on the results of certain PCR tests that are used to test for COVID. And some of those PCR tests can give us a reading that suggests that omicron may be up around 20 to 30% of cases already," Sax said.

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