Demand for COVID tests rising amid case surge

Published 6:00 am Saturday, January 8, 2022

The demand for COVID-19 tests in the Miss-Lou appears to be rising as a surge of new cases takes place.

According to the CDC, 248 new cases and three new hospital admissions have been reported in Adams County within the past week.  As of Jan. 4, five patients were being treated with COVID-19 at Merit Health Natchez, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health. The county has a 38.16% positivity rate with 54.4% of the population over five years old fully vaccinated, the CDC reports.

In Concordia Parish, 165 new cases and eight new hospital admissions have been reported within the past week. The parish has a 34.56% positivity rating with 42.1% of the population over four years old fully vaccinated, the CDC reports.

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These totals would not include unreported positive test results from at-home COVID-19 test kits that have been flying off of store shelves and distributed in the community.

On Tuesday, the Concordia Parish Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness partnered with the Vidalia Fire Department to distribute COVID-19 at-home test kits at no cost, Director Tim Vanier said.

“We gave out more than 100 test kits in a matter of 20 minutes they were gone,” he said, adding he is on his way to Alexandria to pick up more test kits for another distribution that will likely be scheduled early next week. The distribution will be advertised on local television and radio stations, in newspapers and social media, he said.

“The Louisiana Department of Health is rationing them out according to the population of each parish in the state,” he said. “There are no qualifications for receiving them.”

Because of the high demand, Vanier asked that only those who suspect they have COVID-19 or known exposure pick up a test.

“There is a shortage of the home test kits in all of our local pharmacies and stores and our clinics and hospitals in both Louisiana and Mississippi,” he said. “There is a high demand for right now in our community and there are people who just don’t have access to healthcare.”

Vanier said whether you test positive or negative with an at-home test, you should continue to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and avoid being around other people if you have symptoms.

“If you do happen to have a positive test, you should follow that up with your healthcare provider for further evaluation and treatment,” he said.

The Adams County Safe Room at 323 Liberty Road hosts a free COVID-19 testing site weekly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Adams County Emergency Management Director Robert Bradford said the tests are managed by the state health department and are by appointment only. Appointments can be scheduled at covidschedule.umc.edu.

Tests are administered to approximately 125 each day at the Safe Room, Bradford said. In light of the demand for COVID-19 tests, Bradford said he is asking to increase the testing capacity to approximately 250 tests a day and increase the test days from two times a week to three.

“We’ve had some people get misinformation that they can drive up and get a COVID-19 test without an appointment,” he said. “You have to register through the state website. We know there has been an uptick in cases. We want to encourage people to get vaccinated and continue to follow all of the guidelines, including social distancing and wearing a mask if you’re around other people. We’re looking at our numbers and if they continue to rise, our office may be asking the Board of Supervisors to take measures to keep people safe in county facilities.”

COVID-19 testing is also available at area hospitals and private clinics and pharmacies, some free of charge and others for a fee. Individuals who need a COVID-19 test should call their provider for appointment information.