ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Many people found themselves getting turned away from the Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) testing clinic at the Salem Civic Center Tuesday due to the number of test kits available.
“This is actually the third time I’ve tried,” said Rob Lodico.
Lodico was among the hundreds who drove to the Salem Civic Center on Tuesday, Jan. 11 in hopes of getting a COVID-19 test out of concern for their health.
“The one person who I associate with was exposed to someone who was positive and I have some mild symptoms and before I go get near anybody else I’d rather just find out for sure whether I have it or not,” said Lodico.
“I was recently around some family members who have tested positive and I have some young children at home so I’m hoping to be able to get a test to see if I have it or not,” said Stephanie Rodgers of Roanoke County.
A total of 400 COVID-19 tests were available at the Salem testing site on Tuesday.
The public libraries in Roanoke and in Botetourt County have also been distributing at-home test kits to the public on a first-come, first-served basis, but within hours of restocking their testing supply this week, they ran out once again.
“I talked with our director of libraries today, and [she] told me that we got in at least 360 [COVID-19 test kits], basically had them ready to go out into the community, and they were gone like that because there is such an increase in demand for those,” said Tiffany Bradbury, director of communications for Botetourt County. “Since we’ve started this program, it’s a collaboration with the Virginia Department of Health, we have given out over 1,500 and that’s just since December in our Botetourt County Library System.”
“At this point, we simply just don’t have enough testing capacity, said Dr. Cynthia Morrow, director of the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts.
According to Morrow, the number of COVID-19 tests available at various clinics across the area is designed to meet the public’s need without overwhelming labs.
She says one thing people can do to help with the supply and demand problem is to avoid rushing out to test simply because they think they may be infected with the coronavirus.
“I know that this is hard. I think that for people who can forego testing either they’re asymptomatic and they have the ability to stay home or they’re asymptomatic and they’ve had a close contact, if you don’t have to get tested for work or school purposes, ride out those five days in your quarantine at home and then you can return,” explained Morrow. “While testing would be ideal on day six after five days at this point we simply just don’t have enough capacity. So I would encourage people if they’re asymptomatic and they’re seeking testing because they’ve been exposed, hunker down for those five days of quarantine, put on your mask, wear it properly and you can go back to work or back to school on day six.”