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Increased demand in COVID-19 testing leads to long lines and frustration across Connecticut

In Vernon, officials tried out a new system that would help avoid turning people away after they waited in line.

VERNON, Conn. — There is an increased demand for COVID-19 testing in Connecticut. 

"It wasn't easy to find a test, you know we had gatherings over the holiday weekend, we wanted to be tested to be safe and it was a real struggle to find a spot," Russell Blair, of Manchester told FOX61.

Once you do find a spot, you can be met with long lines and long wait times. In Vernon, officials saw over the weekend just how busy these sites are getting right now.

RELATED: Here's where you can get tested for COVID-19 in Connecticut

"We got a taste of it. We had to turn away almost 100 cars and some of these people were waiting in line for two hours," Michael Purcaro, emergency management director for the town of Vernon said. "That's unacceptable, you know there's a better way to do it."

On Tuesday, the town rolled out a new system. They handed out tickets to the number of people their site could accommodate which was helpful, since people started lining up hours before it even opened.

"When they got here early, we gave them a ticket, we told them come back you can wait if you want and that eased people's minds," Purcaro added.

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In Hartford, the demand for tests was evident.

The state sponsored site on Albany Avenue closed hours before it was scheduled to on Tuesday, after testing supplies ran out. Community members said it illustrates the need for more sites.

"We don't know when this thing is gonna stop, we're just beginning. We haven't seen anything yet so we need to get ahead of the game," Helen Nixon, co-chair of the Northeast Neighborhood NRZ told FOX61. "Let's open up some more mobile units, I don't care where you put them. In every neighborhood if you have to, on every street if you have to."

The city's health director said they are planning to increase mobile testing and expand capacity at existing sites, as they try to meet the current need. 

"I think a lot of people were probably caught a little flat-footed," Liany Arroyo said. "I think we all had what we thought was a reasonable testing system in place, but no one was prepared for the infectivity of the omicron variant and how fast it's spreading and how quickly people develop symptoms."

Towns and cities are also now rolling out plans to distribute at-home test kits this week. Click here to find that information, as it released by officials.

RELATED: List of COVID testing kit distributions by town in Connecticut

Gaby Molina is a reporter and anchor at FOX61 News. She can be reached at gmolina@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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