Demand for COVID-19 tests in CK well within assessment centre’s capacity

CKHA COVID-19 Assessment Centre on Emma Street in Chatham. (Photo courtesy of the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance).

You probably won’t see any long lineups at Chatham-Kent’s COVID-19 Assessment Centre at this point.

Chatham-Kent Health Alliance President and CEO Lori Marshall said Thursday that while local health officials are still strongly encouraging people to book their appointments ahead of time, the current demand for tests is well within the local assessment centre’s capacity.

Marshall said normal volumes at the facility on Emma Street in Chatham have been about 100 people per day, but noted there has been an increase in demand over the past couple of days, with around 200 tests now taking place daily.

She said that is still well below the peak testing numbers the centre was seeing of around 500 tests per day in early August following a rise in new cases in Chatham-Kent.

In case the demand for tests starts to rise locally, though, and with winter approaching, Marshall said the CKHA is currently in discussions for plans to come up with alternate arrangements for testing, which could include opening another assessment site.

“We are looking at different models that might allow us to respond to even greater volumes in the event that it was required in our community,” said Marshall. “That includes adding some additional rooms in the current centre, expanding our hours in the current centre, and we are also currently looking to see if there is an alternate location that might allow us to have a larger footprint and is more convenient for people attending.”

The province also announced some new COVID-19 testing guidelines for Ontario Thursday, which could lead to fewer people attending assessment centres.

Provincial officials said they are shifting their focus away from untargeted asymptomatic testing, adding that effective immediately, Ontarians should only go to an assessment centre if they are:

– Showing COVID-19 symptoms
– Have been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus, as informed by your public health unit or exposure notification through the COVID Alert app
– A resident or work in a setting that has a COVID-19 outbreak, as identified and informed by your local public health unit
– Eligible for testing as part of a targeted testing initiative directed by the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Long-Term Care

A release from the province said making those changes to the testing guidance will support timely access to testing for those who need it.