COLUMBUS (WCMH) – As COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Ohio, so does the demand when it comes to testing.
But how available are tests?
Rapid antigen tests are very hard to find, with several local pharmacies saying they are out of stock online.
Columbus Metropolitan Libraries has been giving out rapid COVID antigen tests all summer, but now?
“Demand has spiked tremendously, and we are seeing that the demand is simply outweighing the supply at this point,” said Ben Zenitsky, a spokesman for the library system.
When it comes to testing, some local health systems like OhioHealth are requiring a doctor referral.
OSU Wexner Medical Center said it’s averaging about 200 PCR tests a week for symptomatic patients, normally given that same day or the next. A spokesperson added there are rapid tests being used at immediate care locations. Wexner no longer offers travel or voluntary testing because of increased demand.
Mt. Carmel health system said it has about 350 tests a day for pre-procedural, pre-admission, and symptomatic patients.
“Individuals often call us after they feel like they’ve exhausted the local pharmacies and retail pharmacies.,” said Dr. Mysheika Roberts with Columbus Public Health.
As for mass testing, that is something Columbus Public Health is considering.
“We are exploring something like that again,” Roberts said. “Obviously the Celeste Center is not available, so we’re looking at some alternate locations where we can not only do the testing but also provide the vaccine.”
Dr. Joseph Gastaldo with OhioHealth said that back in July, OhioHealth averaged about 1,000 tests a day. Now in September, it’s more like 2,000 system-wide.
“There really is beginning to be a shortage of home antigen testing and also, too, when it comes to PCR testing or molecular tests, there’s also beginning to be a shortage of those again,” Gastaldo said.
As for when local libraries will be stocked up with free tests yet again?
“We did just get in a new shipment, but we anticipate that those will not be available in our library locations until later this week,” Zenitsky said, adding he expects them to go fast.
Gastaldo said an issue OhioHealth is facing when it comes to testing is that people are trying to show up at emergency rooms for a test. He’s asking people to not do that.
OSU Wexner Medical Center is asking the same thing but has a different problem: people not showing up for appointments that are limited.