As the Omicron variant leads to a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases, more northern Texans are calling for drive-thru rapid testing.
In what are memories of the early months of the pandemic – hundreds of people waited for a COVID-19 test – at sites in North Texas – in their vehicle on Sunday.
Dr. Martin McElhey is medical director at Neighborhood Medical Center in Edison and operates the trial site of the same name in far north Dallas, just a few blocks from DNT.
“It’s kind of déj vu again,” McElhay said. “It’s being fearless.”
Before you dismiss this as an exaggeration, consider this – McElya has operated the testing site since COVID-19 took hold 21 months ago.
McElya sped from car to car in the parking lot of a former steakhouse. He said the positivity rate for tests reached 30% here on Sunday.
“We have people streaming all day long,” McElhay said. Some are symptomatic, some are not symptomatic, but have very, very high positivity rates.”
He says the high positivity rate tells him that more of us have stopped or reduced wearing masks and practiced social distancing.
“People have stopped being alert, they’re tired of the whole thing and they’re freaking out and being around people and they’re spreading it like wildfire,” McElhay said.
McElya added the wait time for rapid test results, about three to four hours, has only increased because he struggles to keep his staff either burning out or testing positive.
Test demand also reached the height of the Delta version in early September, but McElhay says he already sees significant differences with O’Micron.
“It doesn’t seem severe enough in patients that we’re seeing, although the volume has expanded so quickly,” McLea said. “It’s not a slow ramp-up. It’s just gone up like a rocket ship, straight up.”
With Dallas County testing locations closed until the new year, McElhay says he expects long lines every day for at least the next two to three weeks.