Local assessment centre, pharmacies see spike in COVID-19 test demand amid second wave
Some are waiting up to 3 days to get a COVID-19 test
Even though Lacie Krzemien knew she had been a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case, she still had to book an appointment and wait to get tested.
"I think what should change is anyone that wants to get tested and is saying they have a close contact should be tested and even waiting 24 hours for me was very stressful," she told CBC News.
Krzemien works with Windsor's Overdose Prevention Society and is helping to house people from Tent City. After a man they housed tested positive, Krzemien knew she had to get tested as she said she was a close contact.
But, because of a province-wide rule, she wasn't able to just walk-in.
Yet, Krzemien isn't the only one who had to wait. Pharmacies conducting tests and one local assessment centre is finding the demand for testing in Windsor-Essex has spiked in recent weeks as cases continue to climb.
On Thursday, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) reported 63 new COVID-19 cases and 19 outbreaks.
WECHU CEO Theresa Marentette said in some cases there could be up to a three-day wait for an appointment at assessment centres, though lab results are coming in within a day or two.
Testing demand has more than doubled
"All of that combined, there is a little bit of delay in people getting tested and then getting their results at this time," she said.
Erie Shores HealthCare Chief of Staff Ross Moncur told CBC News Thursday that they're testing more than 160 people per day at their assessment centre, which is more than double what they were seeing back in October.
"As the cases have gone up, [we] have seen increased number of folks looking to be tested," he said. "So our teams have regrouped. This is a year of re-invention and we have re-invented our assessment centre a few times now and in response to the demand we'll be increasing the capacity at the assessment centre by about 20 per cent immediately with eyes to increase it further than that in the coming weeks as we see what happens with demand."
The wait time to get a test is about two days right now, Moncur said, adding that he hopes that will decrease as they increase their capacity on Friday.
He said they are also willing to set up another assessment centre, though it all comes down to having enough staff on hand.
Meanwhile, pharmacist Tim Brady of Brady's Drug Stores in Essex, Ont. and Belle River, Ont., who has been testing at his Essex location for about a month says he's also seeing an increased demand.
"It's definitely escalating, the amount of people that are coming in," he said.
The pharmacy performs tests for asymptomatic people only, Brady said, meaning it's for those who need a test for work or travel.
"These are people that we need to make sure aren't positive so that they don't potentially be the spreader to a bigger issue," he said.
They are doing tests three to four days a week and people are typically waiting a day or two to get in.
His pharmacy is receiving results in 48 to 72 hours.