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Virginia free clinics seeing uptick in patient demand as COVID-19 cases increase

The Virginia Association of Free and Charitable Clinics says most requests are for COVID-19 tests and vaccinations.

ARLINGTON, Va. — As COVID-19 cases in Virginia rise, free clinics are seeing an uptick in patient demand. 

The Virginia Association of Free and Charitable Clinics said 76% of the 50 clinics who responded to their survey have reported an increase in patient demand, most of which has been caused by requests for COVID-19 tests and vaccinations.

The association said 40% of those who responded said they’re dealing with paid staffing and volunteer shortages, which are limiting capacity. 

The president of the Arlington Free Clinic said they're not seeing COVID-19 cases as much as people coming in reporting mental health problems. 

Nancy White, the clinic's president, said they're also seeing a lot of people getting medical problems checked out that they've been putting off throughout the pandemic.

“Many of them have lost family members. Almost all of our patients lost their jobs in the first days of the pandemic. And it was really hard to get back because their children didn't have school. And so they didn't have childcare," White said. "And so it was a really hard time. Many of them don't qualify for federal benefits. And so the unemployment and some of the issues that kept other people going, they didn't have that. So they've had such a struggle. And so we've really worked to be there to meet that need.”

RELATED: 'It's really exploded this last week': College Park clinic testing 1,000 a day

At the same time, the association said this increase in demand comes as COVID-19 cases in Virginia have risen almost 80% -- the highest since mid-October.

The Commonwealth hit its millionth case last week.

Schools are also seeing more cases.

Fairfax County Public Schools, for example, reported its highest daily case count last week since schools were back in session.

To help keep up with demand, the clinics are looking for volunteers, including nurse practitioners, physicians, nurses, dentists, and more.

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