COVID-19 Testing Shortage Due To Supply Chain Problems And Rising Demand, Health Officials Say | Securities


Virginia Department of Health officials blame supply chain disruptions and increased demand for the lack of quick and easily accessible COVID-19 tests for local health departments.

In a call with reporters on Tuesday morning, the deputy director of epidemiology for the department, Laurie Forlano, said the department was making progress in securing additional rapid tests. But she said Virginians who have exposure to COVID or symptoms of the virus should self-quarantine and try to get tested three to five days after exposure.

COVID cases have reached historic highs in Virginia and the United States, with the country reaching more than one million new cases reported on Monday as states resolve a vacation backlog.

Virginia reported a record 19,506 new cases on Sunday, and the seven-day state average on Tuesday stands at 14,409.1 per day, about 40% above the January 2021 peak. seven-day new cases in Northern Virginia topped 5,000 on Tuesday for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

In Virginia, the limited supply of rapid COVID tests has forced some local health departments and school divisions to look outside the state health department for new test kits.

In Prince William County, where public schools received more than 11,000 PCR tests through the state’s ViSSTA program ahead of the winter break, the local school division used other channels to purchase new tests to to try to slow the spread of the highly transmissible variant of Omicron at the start of the winter semester, which was scheduled for Monday but postponed due to the blizzard. Chesapeake County officials last week also said they were being pressured into private markets to meet demand.

Forlano said the state is distributing the rapid test kits it has available to libraries, clinics and assembly places such as nursing homes and prisons. VDH has also sent more than 140,000 tests to school divisions to send potential cases of COVID home, she added, but state officials are aware of the need to do more, especially with the launch of VDH’s new “test-to-stay” pilot program.

Schools participating in this program can keep students in school even after close contact with a positive case of COVID and administer rapid tests to detect any spread, thereby limiting the number of missed schools. Forlano said the Department of Health has a sufficient number of slower PCR tests and laboratory capacity to run them, but lacks the sought-after rapid tests, which are particularly useful in environments such as schools and medical workplaces.

“VDH encountered supply issues with rapid point-of-service testing on several brands. We have placed orders which still have not been filled in total. Some of those orders go back weeks or months, and we’re going through that and being impacted, ”Forlano said Tuesday morning. “We recommend that if you are able to find the home test kits, secure these test kits according to your immediate needs, rather than keeping many extras on hand, this will help troubleshoot issues. supply. “

President Joe Biden announced last month that the federal government would purchase more than 500 million rapid tests to send to individuals, but those are not expected to be released until the end of the month.

With hospitalizations on the rise again across the Commonwealth, Forlano has warned Virginians to stay out of emergency rooms unless they experience a full-blown medical emergency. If you’re worried about having COVID or feeling sick, call a healthcare professional first. Hospitals in Northern Virginia are already bracing for yet another surge in patient numbers, with many imposing a new round of visitor restrictions on their buildings.

In Northern Virginia, Inova Health System reactivated its “state of emergency” Monday evening in response to the increase in COVID-19 cases. As part of this activation, Inova reopened its COVID-19 coordination center and hospital command centers, which are staffed seven days a week with a multidisciplinary group of clinicians, infection prevention, emergency management and healthcare professionals. ‘other team members.

Vaccines and boosters have always been shown to be effective in preventing hospitalizations and death from Omicron, but the new variant has been shown to be far more effective than other strains at evading the first layer of vaccine defense and infecting people. Because of this, many healthcare providers are also juggling staff shortages as employees test positive and high rates.

“We really want to highlight and encourage individuals to use hospital emergency rooms and these emergency medical services for medical emergencies only at this time. When you are ill, consider going to emergency care or calling your health care provider, if you are mildly ill, for an evaluation and to discuss testing options, ”Forlano said Tuesday. “But emergency room care should really be reserved for these urgent and medical emergencies.”

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