AKRON, Ohio (WJW) – Hundreds of appointments quickly reached capacity on the first day of a new COVID-19 drive-thru testing site in Akron in partnership with the Ohio National Guard, and several Summit County hospitals.
“Initially there were 300 booked for today, 300 booked for tomorrow,” said Summa Health Communications Director Michael Bernstein. “We now have 500 open total for today and those are now booked.”
The Akron facility will administer PCR COVID testing with results available in two or three days.
Beginning in January, the site located at the Summa Health Corporate Office will run seven days a week as needed, with a testing capacity of 300 people per day.
“Most of our cases continue to be unvaccinated individuals, but the rate is high so when there is as much spread in communities as we know exists, we want people to be tested. We want them to know if they’re ill,” said Bernstein.
In Lake County, health officials are also responding to increased demand for testing with plans for a one-day drive-thru rapid test clinic at the Lake County Fairgrounds Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., or while supplies last.
Appointments are not needed, but pre-registration is recommended. Test results are expected within 10 and 15 minutes of taking the test at the drive-thru location.
“Everybody’s been looking for tests,” said Chris Loxterman, Environmental Health Supervisor at the Lake County General Health District. “None of the stores, even the health district, don’t have any take-home tests for people to have and it’s getting harder to schedule.”
According to the Lake County General Health District, COVID cases doubled from the start of the month through Christmas. The positivity rate is nearly 24%.
Since the holiday cases have decreased, but health officials said it’s unclear if cases peaked or if limited testing contributed to the decrease.
“We’re expecting very high turnout given the extreme demand for testing,” said Peter Orr, owner of Azimuth Medical. “We’re getting at least 150 to 200 phone calls a day on top of all our appointments being booked and that’s the same with our partner SET medical clinic in Parma.”
Azimuth Medical will be partnering with county health officials for the event and Orr said the company will donate 2,000 tests and have numerous volunteers present to help administer tests to people in the drive-thru line.
Orr said, of the testing they’ve recently completed, at least 50% are COVID positive.
“We’re noticing many vaccinated and boosted testing positive with mild to moderate symptoms,” said Orr. “The high infectious rate of the omicron variant is definitely increasing demand for testing.”