TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Recently, health officials have once again been witnessing an increase in COVID-19 case numbers.
“We have outbreaks starting again as we saw about this time last year. A little later than this time last year,” said Brianna Bodily, the spokesperson for the South Central Public Health District.
As case numbers are rising, the South Central Public Health District started getting phone calls related to COVID-19 last week. Rather than giving people information about vaccines, health officials were working to give residents answers on where they can find a COVID-19 test.
With the demand for tests increasing for the first time in months, people have been going to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare website to try and find local providers testing for COVID-19. However, the website hasn't been updated since April and now some of those providers no longer offer testing.
“When the need isn’t there, providers typically don’t continue that service," said Bodily. "So quite a few providers have dropped that testing service. So, it’s a little bit harder to find a provider, not difficult, I wouldn’t say that, but it takes a little bit more work than it did.”
Officials are working to update the section of the website that lists testing providers. Some providers say they had to stop testing because they became involved in other response efforts, like giving vaccines.
“Providers across the board in healthcare are being stretched because of all the things coming along with this need for testing," said Bodily. "But, the big difference between now and the time period where nobody could seem to find a test, is that we have the resources.”
As the demand grows for COVID-19 testing, the health district is trying to help steer people in the right direction to find a provider. They encourage people to go to their primary healthcare providers, a major hospital, or a pharmacy.
“Any major pharmacy chain, a lot of small local pharmacies also provide these COVID-19 tests," said Bodily. "Then, the final option is a lot of grocery stores are actually offering these tests as well.”