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COVID-19 testing traffic blocks access to Kingston businesses

Lines for coronavirus testing in one Luzerne County community caused traffic backups for miles.

KINGSTON, Pa. — The surging COVID-19 Omicron variant is causing problems for drivers and business owners in Kingston.

Residents said lines on Wyoming Avenue for testing at First Hospital have been growing, and Wednesday morning was the worst.

In a statement to Newswatch 16, Commonwealth Health said the testing going on outside First Hospital is limited to people who have a doctor's order to receive a COVID-19 test, but by some estimations, the line outside the building still stretched some two miles.

Managers at Bonner Chevrolet saw cars lining the front of the dealership.

"At first I didn't realize exactly what was going on, and then it dawned on me because it's been like that for a couple days, just not quite as bad as it was today," said Victor Daylida, the dealership's commercial sales manager.

A few blocks away at Kingston Fire Department, vehicles blocked the station's driveway.

The department took to social media to ask drivers to leave a clear path for firetrucks to get through.

"As you got closer, people got closer together and didn't pay attention that they were in front of the fire department or in front of the locksmith place that's there, that people can't access any of that," Daylida said.

Michelle Michaels and her son Frank Hartman have been running Kingston Lock & Security for decades.

Despite their best efforts, the family business quickly found out signs were not the key.

"It's just a bit difficult. I mean, our only parking for customers is right out front rather than our drive, which is basically one at a time at that point," Hartman said. "With people pulling up, they're concentrating on what their agenda is and not thinking about everybody else."

Michaels suggests the testing should be relocated to a location with more open space.

"The K-Mart where the shopping plaza was that had some time of an in and out weaving, I think would probably be less congested," Michaels said. "Several times, there were numerous accidents here."

Seeing a line so long, Hartman was surprised to learn the testing was by physician order only.

"Under doctor's orders, this is pretty extreme as compared to voluntarily going for a test just to see if someone has COVID," Hartman said. "We had no idea."

Commonwealth Health said the drive-thru testing gives smaller practices an easy and safe way to get patients tested.

The company encourages residents to protect their families with masks and vaccinations.

Watch more stories about the coronavirus pandemic on WNEP’s YouTube page.