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Louisiana State Fairgrounds sees long lines, wait times on first day of new testing/vaccination site

As of Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022, the Louisiana State Fairgrounds has reopened as a COVID-19...
As of Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022, the Louisiana State Fairgrounds has reopened as a COVID-19 testing/vaccination site in Shreveport, La. due to high demand.(KSLA)
Published: Jan. 5, 2022 at 3:28 PM CST
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - The Louisiana State Fairgrounds saw long lines of cars as people waited to either get tested or vaccinated for COVID-19.

The testing site offers PCR tests for COVID-19, booster shots, and first/second doses of the vaccine administered by LSU Health Shreveport. Louisiana saw more than 10,000 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, Jan. 5, and tens of thousands of new cases since Christmas.

“If you’re positive with the rapid antigen test, you could be quite confident that indeed you have the virus, but sometimes, individuals that may have a negative test may not always be entirely negative, and a PCR test is much more sensitive at determining that, so if people really want to know whether they have the virus or not, the gold standard is the PCR test,” said LSU Health Shreveport Vice Chancellor for Research Dr. Chris Kevil.

As the demand for COVID-19 testing has increased in the last few weeks, medical professionals are explaining why rapid tests and PCR tests vary when determining if an individual has COVID-19.

“PCR tests is a more a reliable test. So, if a PCR test is negative. It’s most likely negative. With our rapid tests you don’t have that reliability. If a rapid test is positive, yes. That’s real. But if a rapid test is negative, probably 30/40 percent of those are false negative,” said LSU Health Shreveport’s director of community testing and vaccination, Dr. John Vanchiere.

Kevil explained the first through last steps of a PCR test.

“The PCR test really starts out here at the Fairgrounds where individuals are swabbed and their samples are entered into a computer. Then they’re taken to our facility at LSU Health Shreveport to the Emerging Viral Threats lab. It’s a series of robotics that processes those samples, extracts the mRNA of the virus and does something called a PCR reaction that allows us to detect very small quantities of the virus. Then that’s reported out through a computer system and sent to your email so you know your result,” he added.

This increased demand for testing is being driven by a surge of the omicron variant. The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) says roughly 90% of cases right now in Louisiana are due to this variant. LDH also says 63 of the state’s 64 parishes are considered “high risk” in terms of community transmission of the virus.

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