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Post-Holiday COVID Testing Rush Underway Before Many Return To Work, School

BOSTON (CBS) -- Holiday vacation break is over and now comes the rush to get COVID-19 testing done before people return back to work and schools across the state.

Tufts Medical Center Epidemiologist Dr. Shira Doron said folks can expect a surge in cases this week.

"Cases will continue to rise for a little while longer, believe it or not. The numbers are astronomical," said Doron. "I think we can expect to see, over the next few weeks, more hospitalizations"

There was a long line for testing at the Anna Cole Community Center in Jamaica Plain on Sunday. The testing center was supposed to be open until 7 p.m. but police stopped new arrivals from getting in line hours beforehand.

"Everyone is going to get COVID-19 it's really just a question of when, and given how contagious this Omicron variant is, it's probably sooner than later. So the most important thing is you want to meet this virus with as much immunity under your belt," said Doron.

With help from the National Guard, MEMA, and the governor's office, more than 200,000 at-home COVID rapid test kits were delivered to superintendents statewide for them to distribute to teachers and staff.

On Sunday, Pentucket Regional Superintendent Justin Bartholomew greeted each one of his staff members with a Happy New Year and a rapid test kit.

"It's a good way for the employees to get this screening and know they can come back to school feeling back to school confident on what their status is," said Bartholomew.

Pentucket High School Teacher Jennifer Barlow said, "I'm glad we are doing it. At least for the teachers, we will feel safer."

And while the Omicron variant is very contagious, Dr. Doron said it is safe to return to work and school.

"I think it is possible to work safely in an office or other work setting particularly because everyone has had the option to be vaccinated," she said.

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