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'They're Exhausted': Testing Sites Close For Thanksgiving As Cases Hit New Record Highs

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - As we head into the holiday season, California shattered another record Wednesday with more than 18,000 new COVID-19 cases in one day.  That beat the previous record of 15,000 set on Saturday.

It is a critical time for testing, but several major testing sites are closing for the holiday.  It's a move getting mixed reaction as testing is the key to tracking the rate of infection.

"Oh, I think they need to be open so people can get tested and make sure we're all safe around family," said Chris Dodson.

If you didn't plan ahead to get tested before your family gatherings, you may be out of luck.

"If you can't afford not to have it over Thanksgiving that's too bad, quite frankly.  We're giving them Thursday and Friday off," said Sacramento County Health Director Dr. Peter Beilenson.  "This isn't a staff that is going to be galivanting around.  This is a staff that's been working 12 hours a day for eight months and they're exhausted."

Dr. Beilenson stands by his workers with no regrets to shut down testing sites until next week, pointing out they have run hundreds of thousands of tests over the last eight months.  But considering the virus doesn't take a holiday off, some say testing sites shouldn't either and it's sending a mixed message.

"Since it started, there's been no leadership or clarity on what we need to do for sure," said Dodson.

Dr. Beilenson says while state leaders may have raised concerns about following the rules, county leaders have lead by example and it's time his workers get a much-needed break.

"People are so overwhelmed.  Our care providers, what everyone has been through, who could begrudge them a day off?" said Veronica Torres.

"These are just our community-based sites, of which we have 10. There are a lot of other sites where you can get tested," said Dr. Beilenson.

Dr. Beilenson says clinics, doctor's offices, and pharmacies will still be running tests while community-based sites are closed for the holiday.

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