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Coronavirus test demand rises as cases trend up ahead of the holidays


COVID-19 case levels and hospitalizations are rising in Missouri as the holidays approach, part of a nationwide trend of increasing COVID infections.

Meanwhile, there are reports nationwide of increased demand for testing as people plan to gather with loved ones.

Health experts say to follow CDC guidance this holiday season whether you have been vaccinated or not.

Sara Humm with the Columbia/Boone Health Department says, "Thinking about not spreading germs and illness to other people you might be around it might be a good idea to stay home if you aren't feeling well."

Experts say both the delta and omicron variants are to blame for the increase in cases. National health officials said over the weekend that the omicron variant will soon surpass the delta variant and become the dominant strain.

The high case levels have many people seeking testing for the coronavirus ahead of gatherings with family and friends over the holidays. The United States has seen a sharp increase in testing demand since the start of the month, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Demand has risen sharply in Missouri, as well. The seven-day average of new tests has climbed from about 5,300 in late November to nearly 18,000 at the end of last week. The increased testing is combined with a higher rate of positive tests, which ended last week over 13%, according to Johns Hopkins.

Missouri's new infections have been trending up as the year moves toward its end. The state reported 2,332 new cases Friday. The daily average is about 2,000 and has been rising. That case jump has paired with a rise in hospitalizations -- the number of COVID-19 patients in Missouri hospitals has doubled since the start of December.

Test demand has spiked nationally amid the spike in cases and the threat of omicron, which appears to be more transmissible than the now-dominant delta variant. Long lines are forming in some cities and companies that sell tests say they're not available in some areas, according to reports. And some experts expect demand to rise even more in the next couple of weeks.

There are two types of testing options available. There is antigen testING, which is known as at-home test kits. These tests are quicker but less accurate and have become a popular choice for consumers who want to know within minutes if they are COVID positive.

Then there is the PCR test, which is a more reliable test but can take one or two days to get results but is more accurate.

Several testing options are available in Mid-Missouri. In addition to pharmacies and stores that carry at-home tests, many larger health care providers also offer on-site testing.

In Cole County, Capital Region Medical Center, Community Health Center, JCMG and SSM Health-St. Mary's are administering COIVD-19 tests. Capital Region and the Community Health Center require appointments. JCMG and SSM-Health walk-ins are welcome.

MU Health Care maintains a central testing site on West Broadway in Columbia. Walk-ins are welcome and test are done no later than 12:30 p.m every day. Hy-Vee is offering self-swabbing PCR testing. Hours and days of testing vary by location.

Erika McGuire

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Matthew Sanders

Matthew Sanders is the digital content director at ABC 17 News.


1 Comment

  1. “nationwide increased demand for testing” and “a nationwide trend of increasing COVID”. Might the two be related? like the more you test the more cases you will find?

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