Jefferson County health department reports low numbers from COVID-19 surge testing

JCDH happy with surge testing turnout

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Officials with the Jefferson County Department of Health said they didn’t reach the overall goal of 1,500 tests per day at the two surge testing sites, but they said the sites were still a success.

“Overall our numbers weren’t as high as we would like, but we still tested a lot of people,” Jefferson County Deputy Health Officer Dr. David Hicks said.

Hicks said the two testing sites administered 6,370 tests.

“That is a lot of people that have been tested,” Dr. Hicks said. “Our goal was to be a lot higher than that, but we are still happy to have people come out. We believe that we provided access to people who may not have been able to get testing.”

Hicks said each site saw around 300 people each day.

“I don’t think this is a failure in any way,” Dr. Hicks said. “It just wasn’t where we wanted it to get, but it’s still good. Our positivity rate generally has been going down.”

Hicks said 6% of the people tested at the two locations got positive results. Hicks said he does not know exactly why testing turnout was low.

“What I think might have happened was that we displaced testing, so what that means is instead of going to sites we already had, people may have just shifted and gone over to that site, so we may have not had a net gain,” Dr. Hicks said.

Testing kits for the sites were free from the White House coronavirus task force, but Hicks said the two sites still cost the county around $200,000 of taxpayer money.

“Being able to test people at about $50 a test is still a pretty good return on investment, I would say,” Hicks said. “Anytime you can do more testing is always a win.”

Dr. Hicks said the department plans to make changes to other testing sites, like the Legion Field site. Hicks said they plan to add more self administered swabbing to increase productivity.

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