Rapid Omicron Spread Has Cities Scrambling To Cope With Testing Demand


In Vernon, Connecticut, COVID-19 testing resumed in November, with steadily increasing demand since then, city communications specialist Dave Owens said. The city has also started giving booster shots, 446 last week, after pharmacies couldn’t keep up with demand.

Michael Purcaro, the town administrator and emergency management director, told BuzzFeed News that Vernon has seen a 200% increase in demand for testing within the past few days. Normally, one of the city’s testing centers sees about 50 to 60 cars in an afternoon, but a few days ago, it saw 375.

“The surge is here, and we expect it to continue for at least the next few weeks,” Purcaro said. “At least that’s what we’re planning for from an operational standpoint both in testing and vaccination efforts.”

Mike Estramonte of StarMed Healthcare in Charlotte, North Carolina, told BuzzFeed News that since June, his organization has planned to open dozens of winter testing sites able to see 800 to 900 people every hour and return results within two days. “It wasn’t until really the last three or four days that we’ve been staffed up to handle what we’re experiencing now and most people are getting in and out of our lines in less than an hour,” he said.

The test centers will be open on Christmas, Estramonte said, adding, “COVID doesn’t take a vacation.”

Nationwide demand for tests has steadily increased since early November, according to the US COVID-19 Trends and Impact Survey. “We also see more people reporting that they have COVID-like symptoms or that they know someone who does — those numbers are now about as high as they were during late August and September,” Carnegie Mellon University statistician Alex Reinhart said.



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