Area residents have been seeking COVID-19 tests in record numbers in recent weeks, Allen County health officials say.
Mindy Waldron, Allen County Department of Health administrator, said the total tests given by the health department increased by about 47% between October and last week – from 42,108 to 62,097.
The increase was for both kinds of tests, she told members of the health department's board during Monday.
Rapid tests were up by about 12,000, from 16,613 to 28,028. Polymerase Chain Reaction tests, also known as PCR tests, increased to 34,069 from 25,069.
PCR tests look for the presence of COVID-19's genetic material and provide results in a matter of days. Rapid tests can produce results in as little as 20 minutes.
COVID-19 tests are given in several places in Allen County besides the health department's sites. The current site is at 5750 Falls Drive.
Three to four weeks ago, the county alone was performing 82 tests an hour, or about 2,045 tests a week, Waldron said.
“We were overrun,” she said.
Waldron added it took “months and months” to accumulate the first 42,000 tests but only few weeks to reach more than 62,000.
The demand for tests came at a time when COVID-19 cases caused by the highly contagious omicron variant were surging locally and residents were planning for holidays, travel and the return to in-person school after vacation.
At-home rapid tests were also difficult to find at the same time.
The testing crush led to the county running out of rapid tests being supplied by the state, which was also experiencing a shortage. County officials limited rapid test eligibility for a time.
The county last week was assisted by a state team that set up a temporary testing site. The site at 3816 New Vision Drive, north of Dupont Road and west of Diebold Road near Parkview Regional Medical Center, will be open from noon to 8 p.m. today through Saturday.
The site will offer rapid tests for those 18 and younger as well as symptomatic individuals 50 and older while supplies last. PCR tests will be available to anyone, regardless of age or symptoms. Appointments can be made at allencountyhealth.com and coronavirus.in.gov, but walk-ins will be accepted.
Allen County reported 685 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday and 13 additional deaths over the course of several days. The county has now reported 97,673 cases and 1,030 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
The new daily case count is up from Monday's 222 cases but less than the more than 1,000 cases reported on some days last week.
Statewide numbers were not available because the Indiana Department of Health's COVID-19 online dashboard was not displaying information Tuesday evening. The dashboard Monday had not been updated since Jan. 21 because of a “systems issue,” a message said then.