COVID-19 testing sites see decline as state advances vaccine eligibility

Published: Mar. 24, 2021 at 6:02 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - We know cases are down with the help of the vaccine, but there could be another factor with fewer people getting tested.

AU Health tells us these days, their COVID-19 testing site is hardly used.

“Each week we see a decline,” Britney Wilkinson, testing coordinator with AU Health said. “The last time we probably saw a line at the annex was probably mid-February.”

Those lines used to be wrapped around the building and out on the road, but things have clearly changed from that peak of cases to now. And it’s for the better.

Wilkinson says once 11:30 hits, cars trickle through the rest of the day. Last week, they tested 900 people in total. They used to do that in one day.

But the site is still open six days a week for now and AU hopes that changes to half days by the end of April.

“We will be operational in the morning time, and we will use the staff here more so at our vaccination sites,” Wilkinson explained.

AU Health cut staffing at the testing site in half in the past month because the majority of their patients are getting COVID tests for jobs or before surgery.

Local MedNow clinics are cutting back too. They took down their tent at their overflow testing area and they say they’re doing about 700 swabs a week.

“Now that it’s about 700, that’s down significantly. We were doing as many as 3,000 a week at our locations,” Dr. Mark Newton with MedNow said.

Dr. Newton also says they expect to see those numbers rise because of thousands getting tested for the Masters tournament.

But after that, our local hospitals are hoping to never go back to those long lines.

“It is incredibly encouraging. It happened a lot quicker than we were expecting,” Wilkinson said.

Today was the last day for COVID testing at AU’s pediatric testing site in Grovetown. But there’s good news: the positivity rate for COVID-19 this week is down to five percent.


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