Experts say testing is a big part of staying safe as holiday festivities kick in this year with lots of people gathering.

What You Need To Know

  •  Experts are urging anyone who has not received a COVID-19 vaccine, to do so before traveling for the holidays

  •  Testing is also important, they say, to help keep people safe as they gather with their families

  • Testing sites have been set up in Orange County that are open every day but Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve and New Years Day

Dozens of cars in Orange County lined up Wednesday at Barnett Park, with people inside waiting to get a COVID-19 test, including Bobby Long. 

“I was exposed to some people and they said if I was exposed to get the other test and send it to the lab, so I just want to double check before I go visit family for the holidays,” Long said. 

He tested negative yesterday with a rapid test. 

But he wants to make extra sure, because some of the family he’ll be visiting soon in Louisiana are vulnerable to the virus. 

“Especially since I have family with autoimmune diseases, stuff like that," he said. "I got vaccinated already, just gotta take those precautions while you can."

Lines at this testing site and at the Orlando International Airport show that Long is far from alone this holiday season. 

“Testing is key,” said Orange County mayor Jerry Demings after a COVID-19 press briefing at the airport.

He said with all the holiday travelers coming and going, you can get a test at Barnett Park right up until the major holidays. 

“You will not be able to go there on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day," he said. "With the exception of those four days, you will be able to go get tested."

And with the omicron variant now growing in Central Florida, Demings urged everyone to get vaccinated if they haven’t already done so. 

Long already has his shot, but he knows that even with the vaccine, he can still spread the virus. 

So, he’s making sure he’s not brining anything other than presents to his family gathering. 

In case you want to get tested before you hop on a flight, the airport testing site is open 7 days a week, until 5 p.m  on weekdays and 7 p.m. during weekends.