RICHMOND, Va. -- Like most of the U.S., health experts in Virginia expect to see a surge upon a surge of COVID-19 cases as people return from the Thanksgiving holiday.
"We fully expect that there will be another surge as a result of these Thanksgiving holidays and that's particularly concerning because we're seeing higher rates of community spread than we have at any point in the pandemic," Richmond and Henrico Health Director, Dr. Danny Avula said.
With available testing appointments at medical facilities difficult to find, thousands of people are taking advantage of free walk-up and drive-thru clinics offered by local health districts.
On Monday, a long line stretched outside of Second Baptist Church in Chester as several people waited to be tested by health officials.
The church is opening its doors twice a week for the month of December in anticipation of more cases.
"We've always been a loving church," Pastor Johnnie Flemings said. "I couldn't come up with a reason to say no, especially with this pandemic."
Once you've been exposed to the virus, it normally takes two to 14 days for symptoms to appear, according to doctors.
Even if you're asymptomatic, you can still spread the virus to others.
If a COVID-19 test is taken too early, the virus may not be detected.
Avula said people should quarantine, regardless of test results.
"That's why when there's been a potential exposure, we ask people to quarantine for the full 14 days," Avula said.
If you're unsure of exposure, health experts still advise you to wear a mask and practice social distancing, especially with relatives and friends above the age of 65.
More testing opportunities are also being arranged this week by health departments across the state.
- Wednesday, December 2, Pathways Crater Health District (7 East Old St.) 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m.
- Wednesday, December 2, St. Augustine Catholic Church (4400 Beulah Road) 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
- Wednesday, December 2, Huguenot High School (7945 Forest Hill Ave.) 1-4 p.m.
- Thursday, December 3, Faith and Family Church (7900 Walmsley Blvd.) 4-5 p.m.
- Thursday, December 3, The Diamond Parking Lot (3001 N Arthur Ashe Blvd) 1-4 p.m.
- Friday, December 4, Eastern Henrico Health Department (1400 N Laburnum Ave.) 1-3 p.m.
Flu Vaccine Testing:
- Tuesday, December 1, Walmsley United Methodist Church (2950 Walmsley Blvd.) 10am-12pm