Ochsner opens drive-thru testing site to help keep up with demand in latest COVID surge
BATON ROUGE - As the fourth surge has led to a steady increase in vaccinations, the spike is also leading to more people looking to get tested.
"Testing has increased dramatically. We administered, for the week beginning Aug. 8, we administered about 15,800 COVID tests. Positivity rate is 19.6," Ochsner CEO Warner Thomas said.
Each week, Ochsner says it has the capacity to administer 30,000 tests. More than half were already done since Sunday. Ochsner opened a drive-thru testing site at its old Runnels Campus in Baton Rouge to help keep up with demand.
Of the nearly 16,000 tests taken, 3,096 have been in people 19 years and younger. For that age group, the positivity rate is 23.4 percent, meaning more than 700 people under 19 have tested positive through Ochsner this week.
It highlights an ongoing trend of more children contracting COVID.
"That positivity rate has literally gone from around four percent, probably four or five weeks ago, up to this almost 24 percent now positivity that we're seeing among children," Ochsner Chief Medical Officer Robert Hart said.
Systemwide, Ochsner has 1,063 positive patients hospitalized, 14 of those are pediatric cases. Another 11 are pregnant women, all of whom are not fully vaccinated.
As hospitalizations continue their ascent from early July, Ochsner—like other hospitals—is having to make tough decisions on the care that can be provided.
"In the past week, we've had to decline 175 transfer requests," Thomas said.
As for when hospitalizations will peak and eventually plateau in this latest surge, hospital officials say models still show a significant climb. They are hesitating to give a timeframe or label any potentially positive data as trends.
Ochsner Baton Rouge is offering drive-thru PCR testing for COVID-19 six days per week at the former Runnels School (17255 S. Harrell's Ferry Rd, Baton Rouge, LA 70816).
Testing has no out-of-pocket costs and will take place throughout August from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., Monday thru Friday, and 8 a.m. until 1 p.m., on Saturday.
Testing is open to Louisiana residents, age two and older and those interested in being tested should bring a picture ID and insurance card, if applicable.
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