Delta variant drives local demand for COVID-19 tests

Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 7:03 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The delta variant is driving demand for COVID-19 tests across our area. Cars were lined up Wednesday at AU Health’s drive-thru testing site downtown. The demand to get tested is so high, AU Health says it’s considering expanding those drive-thru hours. The hospital is also considering opening back up some of its other testing options.

During the last 20 minutes AU’s testing site was open on Wednesday, we saw around 10 cars in line or pulling up with people to get tested. Like COVID cases, COVID testing is a trend that’s once again on the rise.

AU says phones are ringing off the hook.

“Everybody’s getting tested again,” said Dr. Jose Vazquez, AU Health infectious disease expert.

After a sharp decline from May through early July, once again COVID testing is in high demand.

“I think people are very scared of the delta variant. Number two, even people that are being vaccinated now are scared that they’ll have COVID,” said Vazquez.

On Monday, they completed 156 tests. And 172 on Tuesday. MedNow Urgent Care also says about 50 percent of all their daily patients come in for COVID tests. Dr. Vazquez says not only are they testing more, but the positivity rate is back up to 15 percent. A little over a month ago, we were at around 2 percent.

“This vaccine does not prevent the infection like other vaccines; it prevents severe disease and hospitalization,” he said.

Hospitalizations are still lower than what they were in the peak. He says most of those positives who are vaccinated have much lighter symptoms.

“A lot of people with this new infection are not that sick it’s like a cold, its a sinus infectious, it’s sore throat, it’s allergies. That’s what people are getting when they have the vaccine,” he said.

As far as who’s testing positive more, he says neither outnumber the other.

“It’s a combination; it really is a combination. A lot are vaccinated and mild. The ones that aren’t vaccinated are way more severe,” he said.

If you’re trying to get tested for COVID, doctors are encouraging patience. Almost all of the local testing options have a wait time. It might even be a few days before you can make an appointment. As demand continues to grow, AU leaders are looking at options to open their site for a longer period of time.

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