More COVID-19 testing sites open as demand returns

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Demand for COVID-19 testing is increasing for many health care providers in West Michigan.

Hospitals and health departments are adding testing locations and increasing capacity in laboratories to keep up with the need.

Dr. Ronald Grifka, chief medical officer with Metro Health – University of Michigan, says the health care system is seeing an increase in cases along with the jump in testing demand.

“In June and July, the demand was so low, we actually shut down a couple machines. Just over the last week, we’ve had to fire a couple back up because the demand has increased quite precipitously,” Grifka said.

Grifka says the recent surge is not over and expects the need for testing to rise.

“There’s a heightened concern about people becoming positive, certainly with kids going back to school,” Grifka said.

Heather Alberda, a health educator with the Ottawa County Department of Public Health, spoke with News 8 remotely from the Coopersville testing location. She said the county currently is only running the one off-site testing facility.

The location, which operates on Tuesdays, was added a few months ago and since then, the number of people needing tests has gone up.

“Typically, we see between 20 to 30 individuals and I think tonight, I had more than 100 signed up,” Alberda said.

More testing is now available at doctor’s offices and pharmacies, a change from the beginning of the pandemic when supplies and capabilities were limited. Alberda says several factors appear to be driving the testing need including the delta variant, increased travel and the return to school.

“When we reached out to our other testing community partners, we’re seeing about three times the intake in what we were seeing in regards to COVID testing,” Alberda said. “I think that with the demand that we’re seeing, that may be a need that needs to be filled within the next few weeks,” Alberda said.

Doctors are also urging people to get their flu shot to help keep cases of that virus down, allowing for more capacity to care for COVID-19 patients.

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