Savannah testing sites overwhelmed amid COVID surge

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – With local COVID-19 transmission numbers back in the red, the Coastal Health District said they are grappling with a surge of people pouring into testing sites like the Savannah Civic Center.

Health leaders said in a two-week span, they went from testing about 70 to 90 people a day to averaging more than 700 daily. Officials said they are working to ramp up staff to meet the overwhelming demand.

“We had more people showing up than we could actually put through in time to get the specimens to the lab in time, which is exactly why we’re doing everything we can to increase staffing levels,” Dr. Lawton Davis the Director of the Coastal Health District explained. “We’re trying to make plans to meet the demand, and if that means extended hours and more courier systems, that’s what it will take then that’s what we’ll do.”

Davis said data shows people who contract the delta variant will spread it on average to about 10 people — raising concerns over the county’s ability to control the virus as vaccination rates remain stagnant.

“If you do the math; it’s one, to ten, to a hundred, to a thousand, to ten thousand,” Davis added. “It goes up in a hurry and so that’s why we are so concerned and it is important for people to be tested.”

“We recommend everyone who is exposed, even if you are vaccinated, to get tested,” he continued, “because unfortunately, some people who are fully vaccinated can still become infected and can still transmit it to other people.”

Health leaders expect the surge in cases to get worse before they get better.

“Our trajectory is upward, and if you look at what we call the epidemiological curve, it’s probably going to last a minimum of two and a half months or so, and we are not two and a half months into this surge yet,” the Coastal Health District Director described.

Davis attributed testing as a major component for tracking virus mutation, vaccine efficacy and community mitigation.

“From a smaller county, we know the majority of people who were testing positive were unvaccinated,” Davis said, explaining the district’s plan to look at the vaccinated to unvaccinated ratios in Chatham County.

Davis said getting tested will help mitigate the spread of the delta variant, but overwhelmed staff at sites like the Savannah Civic Center remind community members they need to register before they show up to get tested.

Click or tap here for a link to register for a site near you.

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