SWFL still short on COVID tests

Published: January 6, 2022 10:30 AM EST
Updated: January 6, 2022 11:45 AM EST

The shortage of COVID-19 tests continues, both the ones at testing sites and at-home kits. The CDC is not requiring you to get a negative test before leaving isolation, but many of you still want peace of mind, and that is causing a problem

You know how hard it is to find a rapid test in Lee County. Outside of Florida, leaders in states like Indiana are even restricting who can get a rapid test. And Gov. Ron DeSantis says people who don’t have COVID-19 symptoms shouldn’t go get tested. But what should you do if you can’t get a rapid test?

“If you cannot find that rapid test, you should go back to previous CDC guidance, where you should remain in isolation, or quarantine until you no longer have symptoms of COVID-19,” said Kristine Hollingsworth with the Florida Department of Health in Collier County.

The demand for testing has increased so much that instead of offering testing three days a week as they did before the holidays, FDOH-Collier has extended its testing to five days a week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It’s the same increase in demand that was seen at the height of the delta variant surge. Almost 300 people are being tested each day, by appointment only.

Hollingsworth says the more people there are who want to get tested, the more the schedule will change.

“Increase in demand will dictate whether or not we expand hours or days,” Hollingsworth said.

The FDOH released an update to their testing guidance as follows:

Many individuals with COVID-19 may have no symptoms or a mild illness. If you get symptoms, you should avoid contact with others. A positive COVID-19 test result will not change this recommendation.

There are certain groups who are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Severe illness means that an individual diagnosed with COVID-19 may need hospitalization, intensive care, or that they may even die. Groups at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 include:

  • Older adults, especially those age 65 and older.
  • Individuals with certain medical conditions, including cancer, diabetes, chronic lung diseases,
    heart conditions, and a weakened immune system (immunocompromised).
  • Pregnant or recently pregnant individuals.

Individuals with Symptoms and Risk Factors

  • Individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 and who are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19:
    • Should get tested for COVID-19 soon after symptom onset.
    • Should seek early monoclonal antibody or antiviral drug treatment and seek other
      medical treatment as necessary.

Individuals with Symptoms and No Risk Factors

  • Individuals with symptoms and who are not at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID19:
    • Consider getting tested for COVID-19 soon after symptom onset.
    • Seek medical treatment only as necessary.

Individuals with No Symptoms

  • Individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19, but have no symptoms:
    • COVID-19 testing is unlikely to have any clinical benefits.