Long lines at CenturyLink’s COVID-19 testing site just before the holidays

Reporter: Anika Henanger Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
centurylink testing site

Monday, CenturyLink Sports Complex was packed with people waiting in line for COVID-19 tests before their family gatherings this week. But are people really feeling safe to gather and travel after a negative test result?

Some say yes others say that those results are just a snapshot in time. All in all, many students, parents and everyone just want to see their families after months apart.

Many are used to long lines for shopping but now, they’re for a different purpose. James and Isobel Charlton are headed to Illinois. Luckily for them, they’re been tested before so they know what to expect. “This is my third time. And, this is my fourth time,” the Charlton’s said.

Emma Carr and Tate Emo are really looking forward to seeing their family but felt they couldn’t do so without a COVID-19 test. “I would feel so guilty, I feel so bad.”

Rapid tests seem to be at the top of everyone’s lists this week. Alaina Omonode says she needs that negative test result because she’s going to visit her grandma. “She probably wouldn’t let me hug her, to be honest. I wouldn’t want to either,” Omonode said.

Emma and Tate said they were doing what they thought was right. They wore their masks,  kept a social distance. But then, someone they knew tested positive.

“Really scary, just really worried, for them and for us.. It’s sort of frustrating as well. It’s a little depressing too,” said Carr and Emo. So for them,  a negative test would be a gift.

“Relieved. Just a massive amount of relief if we’re negative,” they said.

A negative COVID-19 test isn’t the perfect gift. You can test negative in the morning and then positive in the afternoon. “if we’re positive later, then we’re going to be positive, but for right now we’re OK to travel to go see our family,” said the Charltons.

According to the CDC, though, a test helps. “It’ll make her feel safer. It’ll make me feel safer,” said Omonode.

So Alaina and others lined up. “It’s the least I can do. Stay in line for an hour,” Omonode said.

They hope this gift will bring less loneliness and more family for the holidays. Less worry and more peace of mind. “This is what I look forward to. I go to college out of state so I don’t get to see them too often this is a really great time for me,” said Omonode.

Just to be with family for the holidays. “Just being together. Yep, being together,” said the Charltons.

RSW will be busier than it has been but nowhere close to what we typically see during the week of Christmas. Only 140,000 Floridians are expected to travel by air during the holidays. That is a 59% drop compared to this time last year.

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