COVID-19 testing site reduces hours as demand decreases

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Lines for COVID-19 testing stretched in January. On average, 1,000 people were tested daily at Augusta University Health’s site. Those lines are dramatically shorter now. Britney Wilkinson, AU Health’s COVID-19 Coordinator, says between 100 and 175 people are registered for tests daily. Many of those who are signed up are patients required to be tested before surgery.

“It is a wonderful sign,” she says.

That sign is why AU is reducing its testing hours. Its Annex II drive-thru site on 15th Street will close at noon every day.

“What led to that decision was a decrease in need for individuals coming to get tested. We could shorten the amount of time and utilize our staff elsewhere, especially at the vaccine clinics.”

Demand for COVID-19 tests is decreasing throughout Augusta. CVS on 15th Street and Walton Way averages 10 tests a day. That’s down from 50 at its peak. MedNow on Washington Road is seeing low numbers as well.

“It’s dropped down to about 200 to 300 a week,” Dr. Mark Newton, an emergency medicine physician at MedNow, says. “It’s much less than when we were doing over 1,000 a week and when we opened up a satellite location to handle the demand and post-holiday stresses.”

Short lines at testing centers do not mean COVID-19 has disappeared. Richmond County has seen a slight uptick in cases since March.

“We are still seeing some positive cases in the area,” Newton says. “Sometimes, it’s minor symptoms or in younger people, but they do need to know.”

Dr. Mark Newton tells NewsChannel 6 MedNow does not plan on reducing its testing hours as many people have still not been vaccinated from COVID-19.

“It’s still a very serious illness. The take home point is that everyone needs to try to get their vaccination because there are still people getting sick from this.”

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