The Pekin company that manages COVID-19 testing in Bloomington, Peoria and five other locations in Illinois has seen a sharp increase in demand, but the head of the company said it has taken steps to manage that demand.
The testing site at the Interstate Center in Bloomington averaged nearly 600 tests per day last week. That's about four times as many as the daily average in late June. The site set a record on Monday with 718 tests performed.
The numbers at the Peoria Civic Center, where Reditus processes the tests for the Illinois National Guard and Illinois Emergency Management Agency, are similar. Last week, the site averaged 600 daily tests, marking a nearly 70% increase from three weeks earlier.
Reditus CEO Aaron Rossi said vacation travel and more awareness about COVID hot spots across the country seem to be two main reasons for the increased demand.
“They want to get tested to make sure they are OK because they may be taking a risk, for instance, to go down and hang out at Lake of the Ozarks (Missouri) or go on a vacation or go to Mexico, wherever. They come back they want to get tested,” Rossi said.
Rossi said he's doubled staffing in the last month to process tests at the Bloomington site.
The testing site has no daily limit. Rossi said the lab has capacity to run up to 13,000 tests per day and is prepared to process tests around the clock if necessary. It's doing about half that many now between Bloomington, Peoria and five other locations. He said the facility’s caseload also has grown since the state of Illinois required ongoing COVID-19 testing at all long-term care facilities in the state.
But there were several thousand tests in July that encountered processing delays, forcing some people to get retested.
“Any lapses in the testing process have been corrected and we are continuing to work closely with (the Illinois Department of Public Health) to best serve our community in providing accurate and timely results for all COVID-19 tests,” Rossi said in a prepared statement.
He maintains Reditus can process 99% of COVID-19 tests within 48 hours, even though it may take longer to get the results to the public.
“I can’t control what happens after we do the testing. You are talking about multiple different vendors here,” Rossi said. “Once we release the result then it goes through the whole system, so I can’t comment on when the patient gets the phone call.”
Rossi said the state uses another vendor, St, Louis-based Centene, to handle patient notifications. Centene referred all questions to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). The agency did not reply to a request for comment.
Rossi couldn't say if the supply chain is built to handle all the testing that government and health care leaders say is necessary to help get the coronavirus under control.
“I think that’s the $1 million question and if you can answer that you should run for governor or president,” he quipped. “I know that there is a lot of demand for it.”
Rossi likened the COVID-19 response to trying to drive on a road as it's being built.
Rossi added public education remains a main focus for him because he said so little is known and understood about the coronavirus, particularly regarding when you should get tested. He warned getting tested immediately after a potential COVID-19 exposure could provide a false sense of security because the incubation period can be a week or longer.
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