SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Demand for COVID-19 testing in Springfield has reached a new peak.
Hundreds of drivers stopped traffic along Grant Avenue throughout Tuesday waiting for their turn in line for a state-run drive-thru testing site across from Mother’s Brewing.
The event was held between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., with four staff members overwhelmed by the sheer number of people entering the parking lot.
Some who spoke with OzarksFirst say they’d been waiting more than two hours for their test.
Many others say this event was the only testing option they could find this week.
“I was trying to find a test on Monday, but everywhere was out,” says Alexandra Ramirez, who just returned from traveling outside the country. “The next one available was on Wednesday. It was kind of too late.”
“It’s very very hard to find a test right now,” said April Shrue, who had found the testing site after searching first for other options. “We’ve looked at CVS, Walgreens, Mercy, Cox, and this free option is available before any scheduled test.”
The surge in demand for testing comes as the Springfield-Greene County Health Department reported 416 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
Concerns about supply have prompted Mercy Hospitals to begin prioritizing its tests for those at the highest risk of being hospitalized.
“We want to make sure that we have tests available for those that need it the most,” says Dr. David Barbe with Mercy. “Part of our concern is we have plenty of tests for right now. But what about a week from now?”
Dr. Barbe says Mercy purchases its tests from commercial suppliers. It means if there is an issue with the supply chain, its shipments could be delayed.
Mercy is recommending those who aren’t showing symptoms of COVID-19 seek out other options.
The Springfield-Greene County Health Department’s testing site on East Battlefield still has some appointments available, but not until Friday this week.
Dr. Barbe says right now, local and regional hospitals are simply too strained to provide testing for those who don’t urgently need it.
“Mercy shouldn’t take our eye off the ball of taking care of the more ill patients or testing those that are more at risk just to satisfy an important curiosity, but a curiosity nonetheless.”
On Tuesday, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department launched a new interactive map for folks to find COVID-19 testing opportunities across the county.
To view the map and other testing information, click here.