What do lower COVID-19 testing numbers mean?

What do lower testing numbers mean?

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - COVID-19 testing numbers in Alabama have gone down in recent weeks but does that mean demand is down or are supplies are running low?

When it comes to COVID-19 testing, Dr. Ellen Eaton like many in her field, looks at trends. She’s an assistant professor of infectious diseases at UAB.

“What the trends look like in the last week or two is that testing in general has gone down which I think a lot of us are trying to optimistic and hopeful and we’re hopeful that there’s a lower demand for testing and fewer people are sick or symptomatic,” Dr. Eaton said.

But Eaton feels it may be because the state could be running out of adequate resources to identify cases. According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, testing turnaround is averaging about seven days due to a surge in cases. We’re told some people have been waiting over a month to get results.

Dr. Eaton says she’s heard from patients requesting COVID tests that they’ll have to wait several days before getting one because of supply issues. Those problems coupled with a lag of getting results can have impacts on contact tracing and more.

“So that trickle-down effect into the community where all their contacts need to be notified and quarantined has a delay and that has implications for spread in our community,” Dr. Eaton said.

State health officials are hoping once all the college students are tested then that rapid testing technology being used will be available to the general public as early as the end of this month to help with testing turnaround.

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