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How to shorten your wait time at Covid testing sites

Healthcare workers say there's several ways to make the long lines more efficient

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Long lines of cars and long wait times at Covid testing sites have become a common scene. 

Healthcare workers say there are ways to make the lines move quicker. 

Testing director at Friendship Baptist Church Jamaal White tests 150 to 300 people everyday. The average wait time is 10 minutes. White said people pre registering before they arrive to get a test is how he keeps his wait times so short.

"As long as you pre-register, it makes your time a lot easier and a lot faster, about ten minutes or so,” said White. 

Ten minutes is a stark contrast to the wait times at testing sites throughout the Midlands, which are usually much longer. 


“The tests are up, the numbers are up, we're here everyday, anybody need a free test, just pre register with us,” said White. 

At other testing sites like Lexington Medical Center's testing site on Longtown Commons Drive, wait times can range from 30 minutes to 2 hours.  

Assistant Vice President of Community Medical Centers for Lexington Medical Center Mike Dawkins said it's not the test that takes long, but the registration for the tests. Dawkins said doing the registration before arriving makes the line work more efficiently for everyone. 

“You can actually complete all of your information before showing up. and If you’re able to do that it makes the process so much quicker," said Dawkins. "We can get you through the line a  whole lot faster and on your way and then again the results come back in 24 to 36 hours.”

Downloading the Lexington Medical Center MyChart app and signing up for MyChart are both ways you can register. Pre registering also ensures your results go right to your inbox and that you're notified right away. 

Arriving to the testing site early, or driving to a testing site that's further away and less known about can also help cut down your wait time. 

“You just show us your QR number and that's what makes the process a lot easier because if someone just pulls up and wants a test, we have to manually put them in the computer. But as long as you pre register, it makes your time a lot easier and a lot faster, about ten minutes or so.”

A full list of testing sites near you can be found on SCDEHC's website. 


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