Because the Delta variant of the coronavirus spreads in the US, some counties are reopening neighborhood testing websites that they shuttered final spring, when case counts had been falling and a focus was shifting to vaccination.
The demand for testing has been rising over the past month. By the tip of July, a mean of almost 900,000 coronavirus assessments had been being carried out every day, in contrast with 500,000 to 600,000 a day earlier within the month, in line with the U.S. Division of Well being and Human Providers.
A number of elements are probably liable for the rise, together with the unfold of the extremely contagious Delta variant, in addition to new mandates that require unvaccinated folks to take frequent assessments. The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention additionally just lately modified its steerage for vaccinated folks, recommending that they be examined if they’re uncovered to the virus, even when they don’t have any signs.
Testing has been a bother spot for the US because the begin of the pandemic. A flawed check, regulatory crimson tape and provide shortages initially led to hourslong traces at testing websites and dayslong waits for outcomes.
Officers finally ironed out a few of these kinks and when infections had been hovering final yr, government-run mass testing websites, providing free virus assessments to all comers, sprang up everywhere in the nation. Some delays and problems persisted, however, even as capacity increased.
When the vaccines were authorized, many of the large testing sites were converted into vaccination sites and some shut down entirely. Virus testing largely shifted to the private sector — to local pharmacies and commercial labs, for instance.
“There are far fewer testing sites, public testing sites, than existed six months ago,” said Mara Aspinall, an expert in biomedical diagnostics at Arizona State University. “So that to me is a concern.”
After residents began reporting a three-day wait for testing appointments at pharmacies in Hillsborough County, Fla., the county opened two free, walk-in testing sites last weekend. Officials had planned to administer about 500 tests a day at each site and ended up performing almost twice that many, said Kevin Watler, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Health.
“It was very, very busy,” he said. “So the demand is certainly there.”
Many other testing sites are springing up across Florida, where the virus is surging, as well as across the country. In California, San Diego County added five new test sites last week after an increase in traffic at its existing sites, officials said.
Other localities are expanding the hours at testing sites or deploying pop-up testing clinics, and some are combining their testing and vaccination services. Last week, Delaware’s Division of Public Health announced that it would begin offering tests at its vaccination sites, and a new drive-through testing and vaccination site opened in New Orleans.
“As we experience the fourth and most severe surge of Covid-19 in Louisiana, we must take a multipronged approach to combat the virus,” Dr. Jennifer Avegno, the director of the New Orleans Health Department, said in a statement. “Masking slows the spread, testing identifies cases and pandemic trends, and vaccines prevent hospitalizations and deaths. It only makes sense to co-locate these resources so that residents can access the tools they need to stay safe in one stop.”