PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — With schools closing and COVID-19 cases spiking locally and nationally, officials are now encouraging people to take rapid tests before attending holiday gatherings. The advice is for everyone, even people who are fully vaccinated and received their booster shot.
This comes as breakthrough cases are growing. People who are vaccinated and boosted are testing positive. They usually have mild symptoms or none so that’s why there’s a big push for people to do rapid tests before holiday gatherings.READ MORE: NBA At 75: Former 76er Dr. J Says Players From Many Eras Built League
“The omicron and everything else and a lot of people that I know they’re testing positive for COVID, so I am taking extra precautions,” one Philadelphian said.
Eyewitness News captured a long line at the Widner Library on Lehigh Avenue in Philadelphia and Chopper 3 spotted this line wrapped around the Haverford Library in West Philadelphia.
“I will take any test I can get right now honestly,” Savion Hastings-Ward said.
Another person added they are willing to take the tests because “it does seem like things have blown up in the city in the past few days.”
The Philadelphia Health Department is giving out 24,000 at-home test kits before Christmas. Scroll to the bottom of this page for a list of where you can get at-home tests kits.
“You can see demand very high so we’ve had to bring in extra kits,” Matt Rankin with the Philadelphia Health Department said.
At the Simpson Rec Center in Frankfort, organizers ran out.
Officials are encouraging testing before attending holiday gatherings, even for people who are vaccinated and boosted because there are a growing number of breakthrough cases with many being asymptomatic.
People CBS3 spoke to say they wanted to make sure they were ready just in case they were exposed to the virus.
“I like having them in my back pocket and I think it’s wonderful. It’s two per person,” a Philadelphia resident said. “They don’t hassle you.”
Others say they wanted to be extra safe before spending time with family.
“I wanted to do everything I could just to protect the ones I love,” Rich Gudz said.
“I better get the test before I go see my family and at least I’ll have peace of mind that way and if I test positive, I can stay home,” Mike Reali said.
In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy is encouraging safely celebrating the holidays.
“Please celebrate safely, get tested if in doubt, please keep your family circle close if you’re in crowded parties indoors, wear a mask,” Murph said.
Murphy held his last COVID-19 briefing of 2021 and he made sure to highlight safety measures preventing the spread of COVID-19.
New Jersey had the highest number of positive PCR cases on Sunday since January of 2021 with 6,533 cases.READ MORE: Sharon Hill Police Officers Charged With Manslaughter In Fatal Shooting Of 8-Year-Old Fanta Bility
Among the new COVID-19 cases are New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Both received booster shots and have mild cases.
“If you’ve had vaccines and a booster, you’re very well protected against omicron causing you severe disease,” NIH Director Frances Collins said.
Surging cases aren’t just threatening holiday festivities, other disruptions are also growing.
Three NFL and five NBA games have been postponed, including the Philadelphia Eagles and 76ers.
A growing number of universities are now delaying the return to in-person classes after winter break and cruise ships are seeing COVID cases again.
In New York City, there are widespread cancelations of shows and a decision pending on the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration.
“We’re going to see the number of cases go up pretty steeply,” Collins said.
President Joe Biden will address the nation Tuesday about COVID. He’s expected to also encourage more testing and will have a stark message for people who aren’t vaccinated.
Here is a list of where you can get an at-home COVID test kit in Philadelphia.
Tuesday, Dec. 21:
• Tacony Library, 6742 Torresdale Avenue in Tacony from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Lonnie Young Rec Center, 1100 E. Chelten Avenue in East Germantown from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Lillian Marrero Library, 601 W. Lehigh Avenue in Fairhill from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 22:
• MLK Older Adult Center, 2101 Cecil B. Moore Avenue in North Philly from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Lawncrest Library, 6098 Rising Sun Avenue in Crescentville from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 23
• Waterview Rec Center, 5826 McMahon Street in East Germantown from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.MORE NEWS: Police Searching For Older Model Cadillac In Connection To Murder Of Pregnant Woman Last November
CBS3’s Stephanie Stahl and Kerri Corrado contributed to this report.