(ABC4) – It’s just days away from ​Christmas and there’s increasing concern over a COVID-19 surge. That has Utah health experts urging people to get tested before getting together with family.

On a Monday morning at the Cannon Health Center in North Salt Lake, a steady number of cars can be seen waiting in line to get a COVID-19 test ahead of ​Christmas. But as the week progresses, health officials say they project this line and others across the state will become much longer.

Doctors say the COVID-19 Omicron variant is knocking on our state’s door and fear a potential surge in cases. The message heading into the holiday is plain and simple — get tested.

Brittany Brown, the COVID-19 testing deputy director at the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) says, “If you are showing symptoms and want make sure that is not COVID you’re bringing to your family gathering, the best thing to do is to get tested.”

As health leaders are strongly recommending folks get tested, you may want to get yours sooner than later.
Just over this past weekend, Brown tells ABC4, “Both ​Saturday and Sunday, we did see a rapid increase in testing demand.”

​For one woman we spoke with, getting tested before seeing family is just a part of the new normal way of life. Beka Dunaway moved to Utah from California says, “We spend Christmas with my boyfriend’s family here. His dad was sick with COVID awhile back, so it was important for me to get tested.”

Dunaway says she also works with kids, so it makes getting tested that much more critical.

“It’s not like we’re around that many people, so it’s good to just be extra safe especially around the kids,” says Dunaway.

​Across the country, the Associated Press reports places like New York City, where Omicron is already wreaking havoc, testing sites are experiencing long wait times. If you’re flying out of Utah, Brown says you may be able to get a test at one of the state’s travel test sites in Salt Lake City, Orem, or St. George.

“You can get a free rapid molecular test if you have proof of travel,” says Brown.

​Those results are usually available within 20 to 30 minutes. Otherwise the PCR or Rapid Test is available. Brown says while the rapid test produces quick results, it’s not as accurate and may not be accepted depending on where you travel. She adds there are also other options such as monoclonal antibodies.

​Whether you’re traveling by airplane, car, or simply taking a quick trip across town for holiday festivities, for Beka Dunaway, no task is too large to ensure her family’s safety.

“I don’t know, it’s not worth it to not prevent something like this,” says Dunaway.

Depending on your location or your testing site, UDOH says you may be able to get a test without an appointment, but Brown says it’s always best to check before you go.

To find out more COVID-19 testing information, click here.