FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Testing centers across Fresno saw long lines with people rushing to get coronavirus test results before the holiday.
At this point, the only option to get results back before Christmas is likely an antigen or rapid test. Results come back in as soon as 15 minutes but accuracy is not as great as molecular or PCR tests.
"They can throw false positives or false negatives and are likely at times to miss an active infection of COVID-19," says Carrie Monteiro with Tulare County Public Health.
Whether you're able to squeeze in a COVID test before the holiday or not, health officials say the safest approach this Christmas is to stay home.
"A negative test is not your free pass to gather," says Monteiro.
ICU capacity in the San Joaquin Valley Region is at zero percent and the death toll continues to climb.
Healthcare workers at Community Medical Center hospitals are currently caring for nearly 400 COVID-19 patients.
COVID-19 deaths are more than just statistics to Amanda Villamizar.
She and fellow Community Medical Center healthcare workers have seen the loss of life up close.
"You are having thirty-year-olds lose their lives. it's heartbreaking," she says.
In addition to providing critical treatment, they've had to take on the heartbreaking role of being the messengers for final goodbyes - even in younger, otherwise healthy patients who never imagined they would succumb to COVID-19.
On Wednesday, Community Medical Centers released a video full of heartbreaking first-hand accounts from the men and women fighting to save lives.
With almost 400 COVID-19 patients currently in their care, the healthcare workers are urging people to consider struggling ICUs before making plans for Christmas gatherings.
"It's one thing to say you want this thing to end, it's another to do something to end this," says surgical nurse Camy Witte.
Adds ER nurse Margot Rodriguez: "At the end of the day we are still human and even though they are not our loved ones we still take it to heart as well."
'It's heartbreaking': What Valley healthcare workers are seeing on the COVID-19 frontline
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