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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — The rise in cases comes at the worst possible time for people traveling to see family over the holidays. In a water park parking lot Tuesday, people lined up four days before Christmas, not for deals but for COVID tests.

“We’ve been hearing all over the metro that people are not able to get tested, their CVS, Walgreens, doctors offices just are overwhelmed,” Christina Heinen, Independence Health and Animal Services Director, said.

Independence secured $25,000 in Mid America Regional Council funding to offer 200 tests with cases on the rise. 73% of cases are now thought to be the rapidly spreading omicron variant according to CDC modeling.

“That is exactly one of the reasons we set up this clinic today so we could make sure they got their results before hopefully they left to go see family for holidays,” Heinen said.

Carol Dobson knows the possible impact of holiday gatherings.

“It just takes one person which is what happened to us, one person went to a Thanksgiving dinner and the whole family has been sick since.”

So she was tested Tuesday.

“I’ve had some symptoms especially the past week and I want to see if I have COVID.

Randy Griffith hasn’t had symptoms, but got the PCR saliva test too as a precaution before gathering with family.

“It’s good we all take the precautions we can to make sure they are all safe.”

They’ll get the results in 24-48 hours which travel experts say shouldn’t be too late to cancel reservations in most cases. You may want to check your flight or reservation for change fees, which may be waived or reduced with 24 hours notice.

“The industry is doing its best to be as flexible as possible with its guests and give them the ability of booking and cancelling last minute if need be,” Yannis Moati, HotelsByDay CEO, said.

Moati said he isn’t aware of a surge in cancellations yet, though he expects the variant to have a bigger effect on travel early next year. Health officials worried what 2022 will bring as well, but doing all they can now.

“We know now that the variant has been picked up in our area, we’re probably going to see an explosion in cases. We want to be able to stop as many as we can and stop that spread,” Heinen said.