Increase in COVID-19 testing due to upcoming holidays and Omicron variant concerns

Local News

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — As the holidays approach and Omicron concerns increase, places are seeing more people getting tested for COVID-19.

“A lot of people are using a common-sense approach and saying ‘I want to be tested right before I go see mom and dad who might be more frail and vulnerable, so I would like to have some level of higher confidence before a holiday gathering,'” said Regional Chair of Family and Community Medicine with the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Dr. Rodney Young

Dr. Young added as people travel and gather for the holidays, that could lead to a rapid spread of a viral infection.

Walgreens told us in a statement that they are seeing an increase in the need for COVID-19 testing appointments and services. They added they’re able to meet the demand, with the capacity to perform millions of tests per month across approximately 7,000 testing locations nationwide.

And in some areas of the country where Walgreens are seeing high demand, patients may need to book testing appointments 1-2 days in advance or expand their search area.

Walgreens would go on to say they have been working closely with their lab partners to expand testing capacity while minimizing turnaround times for test results.

Walgreens also added they have also seen an unprecedented increase in demand for rapid over-the-counter COVID-19 tests and are working with suppliers to ensure customers have access to self-test kits through the holidays and says some stores may experience a temporary shortage in rapid OTC testing solutions.

CVS Pharmacy told us in a statement as well that they are continuing to work around the clock to provide local stores with an ongoing inventory of five over-the-counter at-home COVID-19 tests.

Dr. Young added that when getting tested for the holidays and if you an individual takes a test before gathering with friends and family, respect the results of that test.

“If you test positive shortly before you gather, you should change your plans. It is unsafe to then go ahead and say it was an unreliable test I feel fine. That is taking a significant risk for spreading an infection to others,” said Dr. Young.

Dr. Young said that right now the increase in testing could also be due to the fact that there is also an increase in acute illness, with symptoms being similar to COVID-19.

“We have quite a few people who have symptoms that might represent COVID infection, but that actually don’t test negative for COVID, and sometimes we test them for other things. There are patients that are testing positive for RSV or influenza or other things that might mimic covid symptoms, but you just can’t know that with certainty,” said Dr. Young.

The City of Amarillo told us that there has not been any noticeable increase in COVID-19 testing at the Amarillo Public Health Department at this time.

Dr. Young added testing alone doesn’t help contain COVID-19 and vaccines alone aren’t going to help contain COVID-19. He said it’s a consolidated effort.

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