LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — With a surge of COVID-19 cases brought on by holiday gathering and the rampant spread of the omicron variant, testing sites are overwhelmed and pharmacy shelves have been cleared of at-home testing kits.
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The testing site on UNLV’s campus had to shut down early Sunday due to high demand, which caused severe traffic back-up. The site, usually open from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., stopped operations two hours early after administering 1,750 tests. The typical daily volume? One-hundred-fifty tests.
But the Southern Nevada Health District explains that it’s not a shortage of in-person tests that’s causing the back-up.
"There is a high volume and a lot of people trying to get tested right now," said Kimberly Franich, communicable disease manager with SNHD. "We have a fairly large capacity, but appointment availability does refresh on the daily, so it’s important if you are looking for an appointment, to check back to the website more than once."
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County officials are looking into whether more testing sites are needed after recent rushes.
"The federal government has a plan for expanding at-home tests," Franich said. "We are waiting for their information and we will be working with our community partners on a plan, should we get additional testing, on how we can distribute it to the community in need."
However, many people are questioning the accuracy of at-home tests, specifically with omicron. According to the FDA, early data suggest antigen tests still detect omicron, but may be less sensitive and more research needs to be done.
"As far as accuracy, there are several different types of test, so that is something to be aware of," Franich said. "The PCR and the antigen test are used for diagnostic purposes, so they are used to identify new infections."