Long lines reported at local COVID testing sites

Longer than usual lines were reported Monday at some local COVID-19 testing sites as self-test kits remain in short supply and COVID cases surge.

Cars waiting in line Monday morning for COVID testing at OnMain — the old Montgomery County fairgrounds — stretched down North Main Street to the emergency room entrance of Miami Valley Hospital.

Officials with Premier Health, which runs the OnMain testing site, said nearly 300 people stopped by for tests Monday, which is twice what they see in a typical day. This led to wait times of an hour or longer, compared to under 30 minutes usually.

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Credit: Marshall Gorby

OnMain is one of the few local sites that doesn’t require a an appointment or physician’s referral for a test. Premier Health officials say a lot of the increased demand Monday were people paying out of pocket since physicians do not order tests for traveling purposes.

“We are seeing significant demand for COVID-19 testing that reflects elevated levels of virus spread, the busy holiday travel season, college students seeking testing as they prepare to return to campus, and end-of-year surgeries,” said Premier Health spokesman Ben Sutherly. “In addition, due to many testing locations being closed on Saturday, demand for testing has been pent up somewhat over the holiday weekend.”

Todd Korab, interviewed as he sat in his car in line, was surprised by how long the line was.

“Everything had been shut down during the holidays and I couldn’t get an appointment before,” he said, “I imagine everyone’s going through the same thing.”

Meanwhile at-home tests are hard to come by.

Dayton Metro Library and Greene County Public Library both report on their websites that they are out of free COVID-19 tests at all branches. Area drug stores report running out of over the counter tests quickly after shipments arrive.

Walgreens is limiting customers to four at-home COVID testing products per purchase. A sign at a CVS in Springboro said it was sold out of the at-home kits.

ExploreWhere and when to seek COVID-19 testing in the Dayton area

Walgreens had a temporary outage Monday of the portion of its website where patients schedule for COVID-19 vaccinations and tests. The issue was fixed, but returned Monday evening, a Walgreens spokeswoman Zoe Krey said.

“As the nation experiences a surge in COVID-19 cases coinciding with the holidays, we are seeing unprecedented demand for related testing and vaccine services and products,” she said.

“We remain committed to offering convenient access to COVID-19 vaccinations and testing services and products that are critical to helping protect our communities,” Krey said.

As the number of Ohioans seeking COVID-19 tests has increased, the percentage of tests coming back positive is the highest it’s been since early in the pandemic in March 2020, according to Ohio Department of Health Data.

More than 250,000 Ohioans were tested the week before Christmas, and the average of 24.2% of those tested were positive.

ExploreOhio reports more than 20,900 new COVID cases

This is being fueled by the prevalence of the highly contagious omicron variant leading to the highest case numbers in the state in the leadup to Christmas since the beginning of the pandemic.

Health experts say vaccines are the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19.