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4:13 PM, Feb 27, 2020

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Testing demand and staffing shortages put strain on urgent cares

Posted at 5:30 PM, Sep 03, 2021

(WSYM) — COVID-19 tests are flying off the shelves according to local urgent cares and some county health departments. Some have tested double the amount of people in just the past month.

The positivity rate is hanging between 6 and 8%, which is in part driving the demand.

In just the month of August Beaumont’s urgent cares tested 37,000 patients for COVID. Officials say depending on the day some locations don’t have enough staff to accommodate everyone who wants a test.

"I'm just not feeling well so I want to make sure I'm not COVID positive," said Michael Bunch.

Michael Bunch is doing his part to slow the spread by confirming whether he has the virus- so he can quarantine accordingly. Bunch is hoping to get his test results by the end of the day.

"It took about less than an hour, maybe about 40 minutes for wait time, so it wasn't too bad of an experience," said Bunch.

On average Beaumont Urgent Cares have been testing more than a thousand people a day across their 28 locations.

Some, like Bunch, were symptomatic and others going back to school or needing a negative result to travel.

The bottom line is, staff members are spread thin.

"If the demand outweighs our staffing opportunity for the day, we may not be able to see all those patients or accommodate all the patients in need," said Dr. Bernice Sessa, the regional medical director for Beaumont Urgent Care.

Macomb County health department officials are seeing the same trends. Between July 26th and August 23rd testing at their Lakeside Mall location in Sterling Heights went from 62 people a day to 156.

Sessa says the demand means supply is often getting shuffled around.

"We could say come back later we are going to get some swabs coming in," said Sessa." Or if it's someone who does not have any symptoms and does not need it immediately for travel or something we'll say 'hey let's make an appointment for tomorrow,"

At the local and state level, testing access is a priority and Sessa says staff members are doing their best to meet the demand.

Through their increasing community access to testing program, the state health department partnered with 115 Meijer locations to bring free testing to Michiganders. Nine of those are in Oakland County.