Surge, holidays contribute to rising demand for COVID-19 tests

Coronavirus

CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — With coronavirus surging in Michigan and the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, the demand for tests has risen.

TACKL Health said it has already seen a 57% increase in demand so far this month at the testing site it runs at Gerald R. Ford International Airport near Grand Rapids.

“September was pretty big with delta (variant) across the board. October slowed and now we’re seeing a pretty big peak almost to September numbers,” TACKL Health co-found Lauren Hetzel said.

Hetzel said her company expects November to record the third highest number of tests since the airport site opened in December 2020.

“We’re absolutely seeing testing demand go up, partially because the site is located at the airport. You, of course, have an increase in numbers for travelers. We also have a number of individuals who come from and to Canada, as well,” Hetzel said.

“We’re taking our family to Turks and Caicos for Thanksgiving and they obviously have very regimented rules as far as COVID testing is concerned,” Jan Boers of Rockford, who got tested at the airport Monday, said.

Other travelers aren’t going nearly as far but are getting tested anyway as a precaution, especially if they plan to visit a loved one in a nursing home and need a negative test to get in.

“I won’t go to a family event without being tested first just because of the elderly family that I have,” said Krystal O’Connor of Greenville, who also got a test Monday ahead of traveling by car. “With the rapid rise of how many positive patients there have been lately, I just (thought), better safe than sorry, right?”

As demand rises, Spectrum Health is only testing people who are symptomatic. Mercy Health has seen demand increase of 25% to 50% over the past few weeks. University of Michigan-Health West is seeing a strong demand for primary care testing appointments. At-home testing kits may be hard to find; the pharmacies News 8 checked Monday were all sold out.

TACKL’s Ford Airport site offers three types of tests.

“A year in, we’ve really seen that we have become a good resource for community members needing these tests as we have incidents where there might be spikes, if there’s any sort of local mandate,” Hetzel said.

If you’re seeking a test, it’s a good idea to call ahead to confirm that the location is giving tests to everyone, not just those who symptomatic. You also confirm whether they have rapid tests if you’re looking to have your results back before Thanksgiving.

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