Return to school drives demand for COVID tests higher

COVID-19 assessment centre 153 Christina St. Sarnia May 2020 ( photo by Dave Dentinger)

As we head into fall and with the return to school, there’s been a spike in demand for COVID-19 tests in Sarnia.

At the Twin Bridges Assessment Centre on Christina Street, 230 people were tested on Monday alone, up from the average of 140 to 150.

Executive Director of the Nurse Practitioner Led Clinic Valerie Winberg said people were lining up at 2:30 p.m. for the opening of the clinic, at 4 p.m.

“We had to, I guess the term would be close the line, it was about 7:15 p.m. when we made the decision to not let anybody else line up,” said Winberg. “We didn’t want to send anyone away that had already been waiting for probably more than two hours at that point. We had enough swabs here, its just a matter of how do you close your doors at 8 p.m.”

Winberg said 30 per cent of those tested Monday night were kids 10 years old and under, and 69 per cent had symptoms.

“Which is a huge shift from what we had been seeing over the summer months,” she said. “So for us, we don’t just swab those people, we also try to do a bit of an assessment on them. Give prescriptions for strep throat or do a throat swab if needed. With these little ones you’re looking in ears and looking in throats, you’re not just doing a COVID swab, so that slows us down a little bit too.”

Winberg is telling residents needing a test to be prepared for longer wait times until more assessment centres open up in Sarnia within the coming weeks.

“The public health unit does have the swabbing centres for school kids, one is set up in the old SCITS high school, but those are by appointment only and those are just for the children,” she said. “If the parents want to be tested or need to be tested for their workplace they can’t get tested there, so a lot of them then choose to come to a place like the Sarnia Assessment Centre.”

The Christina Street walk-in clinic is open Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Drive-through testing is available Saturday’s from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.