San Diego Struggles to Keep Up With Demand for COVID-19 Tests

As San Diego County sees COVID-19 positivity rates triple over the last few weeks, the demand for testing has also increased dramatically

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San Diegans are reporting two to three hour wait times at several County COVID-19 testing sites the last week of December. Hospitals across the region are also reporting a significant increase in demand for testing at their facilities.

Dr. David Pride with UCSD Health says they are administering triple the number of tests this week than they were about a month ago.

"This thing is spreading like wildfire through the community, meaning that not only are we producing about 3 times as many tests as a month ago, but the positivity rate has shot way up and we’re seeing this all around the country, not just in San Diego so the amount of Covid that is going to be in the community is going to be extraordinarily high," he said.

Right now Pride says it takes about a week to schedule an appointment to get a test. He says in addition to trying to get more tests to administer, UCSD Health is also having their own staffing issues trying to find enough people to administer the tests.

"A lot of people are out sick right now, so it's become that much harder you know because we can barely get the tests we want to perform because people are calling out sick, because they're sick right now as well," he said.

Sharp Rees-Stealy of San Diego and Scripps Health both told NBC 7 they're limiting COVID-19 testing to people who are at most risk of getting seriously sick from Covid. That includes people with underlying health conditions including pregnancy, people over the age of 65 and people who are at risk because of their jobs like medical workers. They're advising people who aren't at risk, but think they're positive to visit a county or non-profit testing site or to do an at home test you can get from a pharmacy or online vendor.

"We’re up to around 45 minutes or so in terms of wait times just because we've seen such an increase in demand, we’ve basically seen our demand double over the course of the past couple of weeks, but we still have, even if it's around that 45 minute mark, we’ve still seen a slightly shorter wait time than I know some other places throughout the county that have a much longer wait time," said Adriana Bearse from San Ysidro Health, a non-profit that is administering free COVID-19 tests to anyone for free.

Thursday the San Diego County Library System told NBC 7 they've run out of their supply of at home tests. They had received 70,000 kits from San Diego's Health and Human Services Agency. Carlsbad Public Library says they have also run out of at home tests that they were distributing to the public.

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