Scheduling COVID test becomes uphill battle amid rising demand

Coronavirus

CLEVELAND (WJW) – Scheduling a COVID-19 test is becoming an uphill battle as increasing demand creates limited availability to find an appointment.

“The supply is just not able to keep up with the demand,” said Dr. Neha Vyas, a family physician with the Cleveland Clinic. “Our hospitals are full, our ERs are full and we really are in the middle of a pretty severe storm of people needing to get tested.”

Vyas said the virus has become so contagious, if symptomatic, it’s best to assume a patient is positive until a test proves otherwise and for patients to take necessary public health precautions.

“There is almost a 50% positive rate right now for the COVID virus so it’s best to be safe,” she said.

A spokesperson for the Cleveland Clinic said there is extremely high demand for testing across the region.

University Hospitals announced its ER department is no longer providing COVID testing for patients in emergency rooms unless admission is anticipated.

With limited options for rapid, at home and PCR testing, is any COVID testing option available best for patients?

“That’s a really interesting question because the NIH just put out a statement yesterday calling into question whether omicron is evading some of our testing,” said Dr. Edwards. “We don’t have a great answer for that yet,” said Dr. Amy Edwards, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.

As demand for testing continues to surge, some have requested help from the Northeast Ohio’s “Vaccine Queens” who booked thousands of vaccination appointments for those in need earlier this year.

While the pair of mothers still actively schedules booster appointments, Marla Zwinggi recently began searching for testing options as well, even purchasing and temporarily delivering tests.

“There were a lot of people out here hurting who need tests and couldn’t get tests,” said Zwinggi. “So, I just took it upon myself to literally get in the car and go from pharmacy to pharmacy… I’m grabbing them to literally get them out there, put them in people’s mailboxes and making sure they’re not leaving their house if they’re contagious and infecting other people.”

Doctors advise if a relative tests positive, all members of that household should stay home.

“We don’t need each individual person to test positive for COVID at this point because omicron is so contagious,” said Dr. Edwards. “If you are around anybody that has COVID and you have even the slightest URI upper respiratory symptoms, you have COVID. Just tell yourself you have COVID. Don’t be around other people. Don’t spread it. We cannot keep spreading this virus, there’s too many sick people in the hospital.”

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