HENRICO COUNTY, Va (WRIC) – The Richmond and Henrico Health District has partnered with Henrico County, the Virginia Department of Health and AshBritt/IEM to open a new community COVID-19 testing center at the Richmond Raceway.

The center opened for the first time on Saturday, January 8 after Governor Ralph Northam’s Friday announcement that Virginia is allocating $5 million to open new community testing centers across the state.

Cat Long with Richmond and Henrico Health Districts said the site is set to offer thousands of COVID-19 tests to Henrico County, Richmond and its surrounding communities.

“We know that COVID-19 testing has been a challenge for many of our community members and testing providers over the past couple of weeks,” explained Dr. Melissa Viray, Deputy Director of RHHD.

Some getting tested on Saturday told 8News they ran to get to the center with testing appointments at other places still hard to come by and at-home tests still flying off shelves at local stores.

“When I went on and heard this on the news and went in there and I saw that we could do it today, I jumped on the chance,” said Maceo Freeman, Jr., who brought his grandson, Maceo Freeman IV to get tested at the raceway Saturday.

For Freeman IV, a Richmond native, the test is a ticket to get back to school at Calvary Christian Academy on St. Thomas, on the Virgin Islands, where he lives with his mom.

He said it’s mandatory for him to get tested to go back, and it sure isn’t a fun experience. “They jam the things up your nose and oh gosh, it’s horrible,” he described.

Jerry Hicks, another one of several trickling in the site Saturday, said he’s immunocompromised and wanted to be safe after feeling feverish. He said he got tested for the peace of mind and to protect others.

Hicks said several pharmacies he’d been to had notes on the door telling customers they were out of at-home tests. “I saw on the front door they told you right away they had none,” he said.

He said the new CTC in Henrico is good for people who can’t find at-home tests, but also for those who may not be able to afford a test.

Patrick O’Brian also got a test at the site Saturday. “A couple of people at church come down with COVID, so I thought it was a good idea,” he said. “I didn’t have any symptoms, but I thought it was a good idea to do so.”

He said his church is still shut down, holding virtual service. After visiting friends, he said he wanted to be safe.

“I wanted to visit some friends and come to find out they hadn’t been vaccinated,” O’Brian said.

The CTC will be open at Gate 7, 4690 Carolina Avenue from January 8 to January 13 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., daily. Following that, the clinic will run weekly Saturdays to Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Appointments are required for COVID-19 testing at the CTC. An appointment can be scheduled up to three days in advance by visiting the VASE+ testing appointment scheduling system or by calling 804-205-3501 during business hours.

Individuals can choose a text or email option to get their PCR results from the CTC. Results typically arrive three days after testing.