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As holidays approach and COVID spread continues, how easy is it to get tested in the Tri-State?

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Posted at 2:20 PM, Nov 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-18 17:37:00-05

ERLANGER, Ky. — With coronavirus cases hovering at record or near-record levels, and the holiday season drawing closer, Tri-State health officials said Wednesday they are administering record numbers of COVID-19 tests.

Patty Heiert received the test Wednesday morning at St. Elizabeth Healthcare's drive-thru testing site in Erlanger.

"It was very quick. We were only here probably about 30 minutes or so," she told WCPO.

She said she sought out a test as a precaution.

"I have no symptoms," she said. "I would just feel better knowing that I don’t have it so I'm not spreading it."

But Heiert might be in the minority of people looking to get tested.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Coronavirus in the Tri-State

Tiffany Mattingly, MSN, RN, is senior director of clinical initiatives and quality improvement CPC+ Regional Learning Network's Ohio and Northern Kentucky region. She said as cases have surged, so have requests for testing.

"More people are choosing to receive tests or seek testing," she said. "Yet, we also have more people who are symptomatic and so we’re not seeing as many people just curiously getting tested as we are truly getting tested because they don’t feel well," Mattingly said.

Ohio reported 7,079 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, and Kentucky reported 2,931 -- nearly record numbers for both states.

St. Elizabeth Healthcare spokesman Guy Kerrick said the network's testing facility in Erlanger is approaching 500 tests administered every day. System-wide, St. Elizabeth surpassed 100,000 tests administered nearly a month ago.

Mattingly said the approaching holiday season is all the more reason people should consider getting tested, but she emphasized that a negative test result does not call for relaxing one's diligence with mask-wearing and social distancing.

"We are encouraging people to get tested, especially college students, before returning home. It doesn’t mean that you can come home and not wear your mask and not socially distance," she cautioned. "Some people are choosing to get tested closer to Thanksgiving and then choosing to quarantine themselves or isolate themselves until their Thanksgiving festivities or holiday festivities."

And there's something to be said for Heiert's precautionary approach, Mattingly said: Two out of five people with the virus do not exhibit symptoms.

"We also know you can spread COVID for a few days without symptoms prior to becoming symptomatic yourself," she said.

Overall, Heiert said she was pleased with her experience.

"(We) didn’t need an appointment, and we were able to do it ourselves and that was really nice," she said. "I would say this was the best experience you can have."

For anyone looking to get tested, the Health Collaborative has this list of testing locations here. St. Elizabeth in Northern Kentucky also has drive-thru testing locations listed here.