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Need to get a COVID test? Expect delays

Updated November 25, 2020 - 1:55 pm

As demand for COVID-19 testing has increased in recent weeks, Clark County and community partners are advising the public that testing volume at public sites may hit its peak on any given day and are offering some suggestions to obtain tests.

“As a community, our three public testing sites are conducting about 5,000 tests a day, which is a remarkable accomplishment,” Clark County Commission Chairman Marilyn Kirkpatrick said in a news release on Dec. 2. “Our goal is to offer as many tests as we can each day and to ensure people get results in a timely manner. Given the current demand for testing, we encourage the public to check UMC’s website regularly for appointments that open up at the two sites that offer appointments – Cashman Center and UNLV’s Stan Fulton Building – and to arrive sooner rather than later in the day if you are seeking a walk-in appointment at Texas Station or any of our neighborhood strike team testing events.”

Since May, Clark County and partnering organizations have conducted almost 375,000 tests as part of its community testing efforts. Testing is offered for free to anyone, with or without symptoms, including children and families. The public can visit the testing site calendar on the Southern Nevada Health District’s website at www.SNHD.info/covid for a listing of public testing sites and upcoming strike team event dates and locations. The state of Nevada also has a COVID-19 test finding locator tool on its website at https://nvhealthresponse.nv.gov/ that lists private labs, pharmacies and other testing resources for fees.

The drive-thru testing site at Texas Station currently has a capacity to offer 2,000 tests per day. The site, located in the parking garage on the south side of the property off Rancho Drive at 2101 Texas Star Lane, operates Thursday through Monday, and does not offer appointments. The site is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Tests are offered on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 8 a.m. The site is open as late as 4 p.m. if tests are available but may close sooner in the day if the daily allotment of tests has been reached. Those arriving for testing should bring photo identification and wear face coverings until they are instructed to remove their masks for testing. Names, birth dates and a contact number are required as part of the registration process. Results from the Texas site are accessed when they become available through a portal on the Southern Nevada Health District’s website at https://www.southernnevadahealthdistrict.org/lab-results/. Results are typically processed in 24 to 48 hours but may take longer due to high volumes of testing.

Appointments at the UNLV Stan Fulton Building and Cashman Center sites are highly recommended to reduce wait times and maintain operational efficiency. Appointments at either site can be self-scheduled through UMC’s website at www.umcsn.com. Those with no online access or limited access may call UMC at (702) 383-2619 to schedule appointments. Both sites accept some walk-ins each day on a first-come, first-served basis as staffing allows, but priority is given to those with appointments. Community members are encouraged to check UMC’s website regularly, as the hospital makes new appointments available on a daily basis. UMC also is asking community members to help prioritize testing appointments for those with symptoms or those who have been exposed to confirmed positive patients.

The Cashman Center site, located in Exhibit Hall A, 850 N. Las Vegas Boulevard on the north side of the facility off Washington Avenue, operates 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and is closed Sundays and Mondays. UNLV’s Stan Fulton Building is located at 801 E. Flamingo Road on the southeast corner of University Center Drive and East Flamingo Road. Parking at UNLV site is available by an access road located to the east of the building on Flamingo Road. An indoor testing area for those with no symptoms is located in the ballroom on the first floor of the Stan Fulton Building. Those arriving at the site who are symptomatic will be diverted to a testing area in the courtyard outside the entrance of the building.

Face coverings, temperature checks and social distancing are required at check-in at both sites.

The Health District follows up with those who test positive for the virus as part of its disease investigation efforts. Members of the public are urged to do their part to help slow the spread of COVID-19 by “answering the call” when they receive a telephone call from a public health representative or an automated notification through text or email. Agency notifications typically provide recipients with information about self-isolation and ask them to provide information about their health and to identify close contacts who may need to be advised to get a COVID-19 test. In addition, to help limit community spread of the virus, smart phone users are encouraged to download the free Nevada COVID Trace App at https://nvhealthresponse.nv.gov

CVS Pharmacy COVID-19 test sites also are seeing an increased demand, Western region spokeswoman Monica Prinzing said.

A test site can typically perform 20 to 50 tests daily, depending on laboratory supplies and capacity, she said. Appointments are required.

Patients who meet the testing criteria established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are eligible for a free self-swab test whether they have insurance or not, Prinzing said.

UNLV epidemiologist Brian Labus, who serves on Gov. Steve Sisolak’s COVID-19 medical advisory team, says demand for COVID-19 testing continues to increase.

“Statewide, we have the highest percent positive rate and the greatest number of positives we have seen in the pandemic to date,” he wrote in an email to the Review-Journal. “This means that a lot more people are getting tested, so it may be difficult to find a same day appointment depending on where you are going.”

The health district continues to recommend testing for those with COVID-19 symptoms or close contact with a confirmed or possible case, those who spent time in a large group setting where people weren’t wearing face masks or maintaining social distancing, and those who plan to visit someone at high risk of illness.

University Medical Center recently released a statement about the need to prioritize testing.

“Please save the available public testing appointments for community members with symptoms of COVID-19 and those who have been exposed to the virus,” according to the statement.

UMC’s testing policy — which is posted on its website — says it won’t provide “unnecessary follow-tests after a positive result.” And a patient with a negative test result must wait 10 days before receiving another COVID-19 test — an effort to “further reduce the number of unnecessary COVID-19 tests in our community.”

There’s a five-day waiting period for health care workers and first responders who are asymptomatic following a negative test result, unless they develop symptoms of COVID-19 during the waiting period.

This article is based on information released by Clark County on Dec. 2.