SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Over the past three weeks the Coastal Health Department has seen an increase in the demand for COVID-19 testing.
Last week they collected more than 3,300 specimen collection kits in Chatham County alone with a positive return rate of 10.5 percent which is up from 6.9 percent the prior week.
With more confirmed positive cases in our area, hundreds are flocking to testing locations which are filling up quickly.
“It’s been a real challenge to keep up because our staff is the same and our resources are the same and so we’re doing what we can to try to meet that demand,” said Ginger Heidel, Risk Communicator for the Coastal Health District.
The testing site on Sallie Mood Drive in Savannah had to turn away cars after 8:15 Monday morning because they already had reached their capacity for the day. Some showed up as early as 6:00 am to wait in line.
“It’s good to know just to keep my family safe, my friends, stuff of that nature,” said Brandon Grant, getting COVID-19 test.
He arrived in line at 7:30 a.m. and was able to begin the testing process around 10:30 a.m. He is required to get a test for his work, but didn’t mind the wait.
“I don’t think it’s a negative that there are this many people,” explained Grant. “Because people want to know if they have it or not, so I think it’s good.”
Coastal Health District officials have seen the testing demand increase over the past few weeks by nearly a thousand more collections than previously. They suspect a few reasons for the high demand.
“Some of it is that people are being required to be tested to go to work or to take part in certain recreational sports and go to camps,” explained Heidel. “And so a lot of people are looking to get tested before they go out and do some of these things which you know that’s understandable at the same time because we are seeing more confirmed cases there are now more people who are either a contact to a confirmed case of they may be concerned that they were exposed to a case.”
[Related Story: DPH reports more than 2,200 new COVID-19 cases in Ga. on Monday]
As the Coastal Health District works to test hundreds of community members daily, there are a number of things making it difficult from the staffing to the heat.
“We just can’t keep our staff out here all day long wearing all of that protective gear when the temperatures get hot,” explained Ginger Heidel, Risk Communicator for the Coastal Health District. “So, we’ve got to stop testing at some point in the day for the safety of our staff and also for our resources to make sure that we still have enough resources to do the testing we need to do.”
Officials say they haven’t had a shortage of test kits, but have seen a slight increase in the wait time for results at about two to four days. As they work to keep up with the demand, they suggest those who need a COVID-19 test show up early and bring patience.
While the Coastal Health District does offer free testing to anyone, there are other COVID-19 testing options in our area. If you do choose another route you’ll ask about the cost and requirements for testing before you show up.
Coastal Health District officials say they are actively looking at what they can do differently with their testing sites to ensure a smooth and safe process for everyone.