COVID-19 rapid test shortage leaves Siouxlanders waiting for results

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — Demand for COVID testing has increased since last year according to health officials, but patients may find same-day COVID-19 test results in short supply.  

Some Siouxland urgent care clinics may not have rapid testing available for patients, leaving them to wait up to three days for their results.  

“We are hearing that it’s a little tough to find rapid tests,” Siouxland District Health deputy director Tyler Brock, said. “They’re kind of being used selectively, you know, in certain circumstances by certain providers.”  

There are two types of same-day testing, according to Medical Director Dr. Jeremy Granger at UnityPoint Clinic. The first is the rapid antigen test which can detect the presence of a SARS-COV-2 infection.  

“That’s the test where if it is positive, then you are likely to have COVID-19 and we trust that result,” Dr. Granger said. “If that test is negative, the general recommendation is that you need a repeat PCR test which is the most accurate test. There are some rapid versions of that test available, but that supply is very limited, so we typically reserve that for the hospital use only so that we have a rapid accurate test for hospitalized patients.” 

Dr. Granger said there has been an increase in respiratory illnesses which contributes to the increasing need for testing, so those who might need a COVID test may want to look at other options. Siouxlanders can make an appointment and get a drive-thru test at Walgreens, or obtaining an at-home COVID-19 test kit. 

“For us, as a medical facility, we are able to test but also treat people and some of the other testing options are great for what they do – which is testing only – whether that be a pharmacy or at-home tests,” said Dr. Granger, “So if people are asymptomatic and they need to be tested for whatever reason, just emphasizing that, I would explore those options first so that we are available to do what only we can do which is testing but also evaluating and treating people who may need additional treatment.”  

Manufacturers continue to produce rapid tests to meet the demand, though that demand continues to increase.  

“I think as long as there continues to be increased demand the manufacturers will do their best to meet that demand,” Dr. Granger said, “Much of the supplies related to [respiratory illnesses] were on short supply, so I think it might take the supply chain a little while but I do think it will catch up and the supplies will continue to be readily available as long as there continues to be personnel available to perform the swab.”   

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