Demand for COVID-19 testing in Miss-Lou appears to be increasing as a wave of new cases unfold.
According to the CDC, 248 new cases and three new hospital admissions have been reported in Adams County over the past week. As of Jan. 4, five patients were being treated with COVID-19 at Merit Health Natchez, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health. The county has a 38.16% positivity rate with 54.4% of the population over the age of five fully vaccinated, the CDC reports.
In the Parish of Concordia, 165 new cases and eight new hospital admissions have been reported over the past week. The parish has a 34.56% positivity rate with 42.1% of the population over age four fully vaccinated, the CDC reports.
These totals would not include undeclared positive test results from home COVID-19 test kits that have been robbed of store shelves and distributed in the community.
On Tuesday, Concordia’s Parish Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Office partnered with the Vidalia Fire Department to distribute COVID-19 home test kits for free, Director Tim Vanier said.
“We distributed over 100 test kits within 20 minutes, they were gone,” he said, adding that he was on his way to Alexandria to collect more test kits for another distribution. which will likely be scheduled early next week. The distribution will be advertised on local TV and radio stations, newspapers and social media, he said.
“The Louisiana Department of Health is rationing them based on the population of each parish in the state,” he said. “There is no qualification to receive them.”
Due to high demand, Vanier has requested that only those who suspect they have COVID-19 or known exposure take a test.
“There is a shortage of home test kits at all of our local drugstores and stores and at our clinics and hospitals in Louisiana and Mississippi,” he said. “There is currently a high demand in our community and there are people who simply do not have access to health care. “
Vanier said whether you test positive or negative with a home test, you should continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and avoid being with other people if you have symptoms.
“If you have a positive test you should follow it up with your health care provider for further evaluation and treatment,” he said.
The Adams County Secure Room at 323 Liberty Road hosts a free COVID-19 test site each week on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Adams County Emergency Management Director Robert Bradford said the tests are managed by the state’s health department and are by appointment only. Appointments can be made at covidschedule.umc.edu.
Tests are administered to around 125 people each day in the secure room, Bradford said. In light of the demand for COVID-19 testing, Bradford said he is asking to increase testing capacity to around 250 tests per day and increase testing days from twice a week to three.
“Some people have been given the wrong information that they can drive and take a COVID-19 test without an appointment,” he said. “You have to register on the state website. We know there has been an increase in cases. We want to encourage people to get vaccinated and to continue to follow all guidelines, including social distancing and wearing a mask if you are with other people. We are reviewing our numbers and if they continue to rise, our office may ask the Oversight Board to take action to keep people safe at county facilities. “
COVID-19 tests are also available at area hospitals, private clinics and pharmacies, some for free and others for a fee. People who need a COVID-19 test should call their provider for appointment information.