COVID-19 testing

Health Care Systems Ready for Post-Thanksgiving Testing Demand

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The demand for a coronavirus test leading up to Thanksgiving spiked, as some people decided to host family gatherings or travel, despite the Centers for Disease Control's call to stay at home.

Medical leaders tell NBC Connecticut that it's best to be tested five to seven days after being around additional family and friends for the holidays.

Days after Thanksgiving, there were long lines of people waiting not for a good sale, but to get tested.

"If you were at a family gathering over the last weekend, you probably should get tested," said Dr. Eric Walsh, medical director of Hartford Healthcare-GO Urgent Cares. "We are boarding on almost capacity to get people tested and if someone really wants to be tested the same day, it's difficult for them to find somewhere."

Walsh also mentions that a lot of planning took place for the moments before and after Thanksgiving.

"We needed to ensure that we have enough staff, all the reagents and supplies to do the testing and a good system to test in," said Walsh.

At Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in New London, construction crews are still putting together a new testing site built to last through the colder months.

Construction crews continue to work on the new testing site at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital. Health Leaders believe the site will be finished within the next week.

"It's more of a drive-thru and it'll be opened on both sides to create a more effective and efficient testing site," said Dr. Kevin Torres, associate chief medical officer at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital. "It will have a roof where the cars will be and where our testers can be inside with heat lamps to avoid the cold elements outside."

Hartford Healthcare, along with several other health care systems, is asking the public to pay attention to when they believe they were potentially exposed to COVID-19.

"I think people may be having a false sense of security when they test negative first but then three days later, they get a positive test result," said Dr. Ajay Kumar, chief clinical officer at Hartford Healthcare. "The incubation is 14 days so we can see the increasing amount of infections happening and positive test results coming back in five to seven days of exposure."

Dr. Kumar also mentions that getting a test five to seven days after a potential exposure is a great timeline to adhere to unless you start to present symptoms sooner.

"The possibility of turning positive if you're truly infected is higher," said Dr. Kumar.

Medical leaders say getting a COVID-19 test is key to mitigating the spread of the virus and they're also urging the public to continue adhering to the state's guidelines through the next couple of months.

"I think in some ways, we have to double down to get through the next two to three months where we anticipate we're going to see rises in cases," said Dr. David Banach, an epidemiologist at UCONN Health.

Banach said even with the news of potential COVID19 vaccines, the public has to maintain key safety measures.

"The vaccine is out there, it's coming and it's going to be here and I think doing what we can to keep things as controlled and mitigated as possible is going to be really critical," said Banach.

According to Torres, construction on the new COVID-19 testing site at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital is expected to be finished within the next week.

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