The malevolent delta strain that continues to drive an increase in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths – mostly among the unvaccinated – has also spawned a resurgence in coronavirus testing.
“We're definitely seeing an increase in demand,” Megan Hubartt, spokeswoman for the Allen County Department of Health, said Tuesday.
The number of tests conducted at the beginning of August in Indiana had averaged about 20,000 a day, The Journal Gazette's Niki Kelly reported Sunday. That has since doubled to about 40,000 a day.
Positive cases also have steadily risen statewide, from about 1,100 a day in early August to about 4,000 a day now.
Locally, about 6,400 tests have been administered since Aug. 1 at the county's free testing clinic at 1230 Ruston Pass, compared to about 1,300 in July.
The renewed rush for testing has resulted in longer waits for appointments and harder-to-find rapid tests designed to provide a quick diagnosis.
Even with much of the focus now rightly on getting people vaccinated, testing remains an important cog in the machinery working to prevent the spread of the disease that so far has killed more than 14,000 Hoosiers.
“The easier it is to access testing, the better position we are in to identify positive cases and slow the spread in close settings like schools,” Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Matthew Sutter told Kelly.
Sutter and other health experts recommend tests for those exposed to someone with COVID-19 or if there are symptoms including fever, cough, or loss of taste or smell.
Fully vaccinated people should get tested within three to five days after exposure to someone with COVID-19 to ensure an accurate result, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For unvaccinated people, Harvard Medical School researchers recommend a test, 14-day quarantine and another test after a week.
How do you get tested?
There are many options – some are free; some are offered at hospitals and doctor's offices; there are take-home tests available at pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens.
The Indiana Department of Health's website – coronavirus.in.gov/2524.htm – lists COVID-19 testing sites across the state and is searchable by county. The site shows free testing locations as well as retail operations. Users can view whether testing sites offer rapid antigen tests, which offer quicker results but can sometimes be less accurate. Those, until recently, had been in short supply at Allen County's clinic.
The website lists 33 testing sites in Allen County, including a free mobile clinic from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday at Ivy Tech's Fort Wayne campus, 3800 N. Anthony Blvd. The mobile clinic is one of two free local sites, according to the state.
Parkview has 10 walk-in clinics in Fort Wayne, Auburn, Huntington, LaGrange, Kendallville, Wabash, Warsaw and Columbia City. Tests are $130.
Lutheran's RediMed office at 315 E. Cook Road is open for testing to patients with symptoms. To see a doctor and get a COVID test would run about $200.
Insurance will cover tests for some people.
Vaccines protect against hospitalization and death from COVID-19, but experts warn that inoculated people can still spread the virus – though not as easily. The pandemic isn't over, and we need to continue to take precautions for ourselves, our children and our neighbors.
Testing is a necessary part of that.
To get yours
Walk-ins are accepted at the Allen County Department of Health free testing clinic at 1230 Ruston Pass, but appointments can be made at scheduling.coronavirus.in.gov or by calling 260-449-3303.
The clinic is closed Wednesdays but open 9 a.m. to noon Monday and Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.
Those seeking a test should bring proof of Indiana residency, and anyone younger than 18 should be accompanied by a parent or guardian.