SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The number of people getting tested daily at the Chatham County Health Department’s two public sites is about equal to the weekly total this time last month.
On average, 800 to 1,000 people are testing daily, according to Stephen Stanley, emergency preparedness director. Even though hospitalizations are starting to fall, the percentage of positive tests remains at 35%, around where it’s been for much of January.
“Positivity rates still remain extremely high so there’s still a lot of infection going on throughout the community,” Stanley said. “We encourage people to continue testing if they think they’ve been exposed or show any of the symptoms.”
The health department has the capacity to test 1,300 people daily, so Stanley said they have enough supply to meet the current demand as of now.
Stanley said people can expect to wait 30-45 minutes for a test. But there is something you can do to help speed up the line.
“If you don’t pre-register it slows down the entire process and holds up the line and holds up your time and everyone else’s time,” Stanley said. “So if you’d take the time to pre-register that would be very helpful and it’ll help in just moving things along and get you in and out quicker.”
Pre-registration can be completed on the Coastal Health District’s website.
Due to the increased demand for testing with the omicron variant, the federal government is sending free at-home rapid tests to families.
“Improving access to testing is one of the key tools we have to help control the pandemic and I think many of us have experienced in our communities that the access to testing was still limited during this resurgence,” said Dr. Stephen Thacker, associate chief medical officer at Memorial Health.
Stanley said the at-home shipments will likely help with the demand at public sites, but the health department plans to keep offering PCR tests for as long as needed.
“We are just prepared to continue going as is for as long as needed,” Stanley said. “We’ll deal with things as they come, but we don’t try to predict too far in the future with the way this virus goes.”
With at-home tests, Stanley said it’s important to follow all the instructions and if you feel like you may have gotten a false negative to verify with a PCR test.