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Lines stretch for testing, vaccination at Tufts Medical Center as COVID-19 cases surge

Two lines were set up for COVID testing and COVID vaccination at Tufts Medical Center Boston.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Dozens of people waited in line at Tufts Medical Center on Friday for COVID-19 vaccinations and tests as infections in Massachusetts surge and the Omicron variant threatens to overwhelm strained health care resources.

Eileen McCarthy, 29, who lives in South Boston and is vaccinated but hasn’t received a booster shot, said she came for a COVID-19 test after she started feeling cold-like symptoms that worsened on Friday.

”I don’t want it to be COVID,” McCarthy said. “You don’t want to be that person who could get someone extremely sick if you’re minorly sick.”

Reports of the fast-spreading Omicron variant were “worrisome,” McCarthy added, and add to the sense that the pandemic is never-ending.


”It feels like it’s never going away,” she said.

Nick Duncan, director of operations and emergency management at Tufts Medical Center, said the hospital is conducting almost twice as many COVID-19 tests as it did in late November.

“We were averaging about 250 tests per day in late November and this week we are averaging 437 tests per day. Patients are reporting symptoms, travel testing, and are seeking testing to be safe for the holidays before and after gatherings,” he said in a statement. “With this added volume, our testing results do take between 24 to 48 hours to return to the patient.”

Tests and vaccinations have been in high demand during the latest surge in COVID-19 cases. Daily testing in Massachusetts in recent days has approached levels not reached since last winter. The state Department of Public Health reported more than 113,000 new tests on Friday; the state currently has a seven-day average positivity rate of 5.77 percent.

Scarlett Ruiz, 27, who lives in Cambridge, came to get a COVID-19 test after she developed a cough and a fever following a recent trip to Texas.


”I’m getting tested because I’m positive I don’t have COVID but I don’t want the people around me to feel weird about it,” Ruiz said.

Kenneth Hieu, 46, who lives in Randolph and works for a utility company in Somerville, came for a booster shot, noting that more than 10 percent of people of his colleagues aren’t vaccinated.

”I live with my mother-in-law. She’s 86,” he said. “So I want to make sure she’s safe too.”

Amanda Kaufman can be reached at Follow her @amandakauf1. Christina Prignano can be reached at Follow her @cprignano.