LSU Health Shreveport expanding COVID-19 testing starting this week
The Louisiana State Fair Grounds location will reopen Wednesday
SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — The want for COVID-19 testing is increasing. Dr. John Vanchiere, LSU Health Shreveport’s director of community testing and vaccination, said Monday alone they did more than 840 tests.
“We can easily collect over 1,000 tests a day here. Our lab can process 2,500-3,000 a day. We have a lot of capacity at the Center for Emerging Viral Threats Laboratory to do PCR testing.”
As more people continue to contract COVID-19, particularly the Omicron variant, they are conducting more testing.
“The good news about this variant is that it is mild compared to the prior variants we have dealt with. But there are a lot of people who are sick,” Dr. Vanchiere said.
“That’s mostly what we are seeing in terms of testing; people who have symptoms or who know they have been exposed, over the holidays in particular, they are learning that so-and-so and such-and-such’s house that they were at now has COVID so they are coming to get tested because they have been exposed.”
On Sunday, 43% of the COVID-19 tests came back positive, according to Dr. Vanchiere. “That’s the highest positivity rate that we have recorded.
“Now the urgent cares last week were reporting 45%-50% positivity, but that’s not a surprise that they would be higher than ours because they are generally dealing with a sicker group of people,” he continued. “We are dealing with a community, broad-based, larger age range. So ours is a little lower than theirs but is slowly increasing. Compared to yesterday, the highest percent positivity we had was 30%. So the positivity rate is definitely going up.”
Dr. Vanchiere said that there is a shortage of rapid tests throughout the country but that they have a reserve few for emergency cases. They are only using PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, tests for community testing as they are still widely available and more accurate, he said. The downside to PCR tests is that they typically take a day to get your results back, Dr. Vanchiere said.
With the increased demand in COVID testing, Dr. Vanchiere said they are expanding their testing and will be reopening their location at the Louisiana State Fair Grounds in Shreveport on Wednesday. “Same place we were a year ago starting our vaccine campaign,” he observed.
“We will have three tents at the Fair Grounds in the big parking lot next to the interstate there. I believe it’s the blue lot,” Dr. Vanchiere explained. “That will allow us to have four drive-thru lanes just for testing and two drive-thru lanes for vaccinations.
“We want to encourage people to not use emergency rooms, urgent cares or quick cares unless they are very sick, such as having breathing problems. Come to a community testing site and you’ll get your results in 24-36 hours.
“In the meantime, folks should rest, get fluids and have ibuprofen or Tylenol, as well as contact their own doctor to let them know they are not feeling well.”
The community testing site at the State Fair Grounds will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday for the next several weeks. Dr. Vanchiere said they will have all their vaccines and community testing at this location.
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