Governor: Fewer people being tested for COVID-19

Drive-through testing station in Mississippi
Drive-through testing station in Mississippi(WLBT)
Published: Aug. 19, 2020 at 6:32 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi’s governor said Wednesday that the state’s positivity rate for COVID-19 testing is still too high. Meanwhile, fewer people have been getting tested.

A chart from Johns Hopkins University shows the testing trends. The lighter orange lines are the daily total of tests given. You can see a drop in recent weeks. Gov. Tate Reeves says it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Fewer people are being tested for COVID-19 in Mississippi
Fewer people are being tested for COVID-19 in Mississippi(Mississippi State Dept. of Health)

“Total testing numbers are driven as much by demand as anything else,” said Reeves. “And if individuals aren’t feeling sick, they’re not going to their local doctor. And they’re not getting tested.”

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs says testing is an important factor but it’s not the whole picture.

“There’s no amount of testing that’s going to compensate for dangerous behaviors,” Dobbs said. “It’s just absolutely impossible because you can expose yourself every single day. We can’t test every single Mississippian every day.”

MEA Clinics recently expanded testing to another location, including a rapid test option, and plan to add testing at more locations by September 1. Because of added availability they’re seeing increased demand.

“I would anticipate with everybody being out there, going back to school, sporting events that are happening, that type thing, you would anticipate, right, that more people will be exposed and more people will be tested over the next few weeks,” said Dr. Amy Hollman of MEA Medical Clinics.

They’re also trying to be mindful of resources as they expand testing options.

“So, we don’t know what the future holds. Right now, we are counting daily what we have and trying to anticipate. We are sanitizing N95s appropriately according to state health department guidelines and using those only appropriately as many times as they are to be used and then discarded,” said Hollman. “But we anticipate that there’s going to be a shortage and limitations based on PPE also.”

Testing numbers could also see an uptick with initiatives to expand testing for teachers and another push for regular testing in long-term care facilities.

The Mississippi State Department of Health plans to have a testing event in Choctaw the next three days where they’ll have rapid testing, contact tracers and other resources readily available.

Dr. Dobbs says he hopes they’ll be able to continue trying that approach in an effort to suppress hotspots.

Copyright 2020 WTOK. All rights reserved.

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