Indiana’s county health departments not receiving rapid tests for foreseeable future

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The Department of Health and county health departments have not received rapid test shipments since December 27. After performing an average of 50,000 rapid tests per week, health care workers have no choice but to restrict their use.

“We started the day with 180 appointments and just 80 testing kits,” Stephanie Mellinger, director of the Madison County Department of Health, said Thursday. “So like I said, shout out to Howard County to help us get out of this predicament.”

Demand for rapid tests is outstripping supply in county health departments. Currently, counties are only required to run rapid tests for those under 18 or 50 who are showing symptoms.

“It makes us a little nervous, but with their imposed guides on how to use them, it helped us keep them a little better,” Mellinger said.

State health departments said they have not been told when the next shipment will arrive as the state notes the national shortage.

“When we get out of our rapid tests, we’re done,” said Kristen Stenson, executive director of the Wayne County Department of Health.

Healthcare leaders are urging people to be patient and spend time searching online for available test dates — which include health departments and local pharmacies.

“If you’re shopping for a test appointment and got an appointment elsewhere, please call and cancel,” said Christian Walker, public health preparedness coordinator for the Hamilton County Department of Health. “The second time you cancel that appointment, it becomes available to someone else.”

Departments of Health said there are still enough PCR tests to date. But those take longer to get results.

“It’s going to be four to five days versus 48 hours,” Mellinger explained.

Like counties across the state, Wayne County has sites that offer anyone the opportunity to get a PCR test. Stenson said they have an open site in the former Elder Beerman Building on Main Street in Richmond. They give exams Tuesday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

All Hoosiers can search for available test dates and walking locations on the state’s website, https://www.coronavirus.in.gov/covid-19-testing-information/.

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