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New drive-thru COVID-19 testing site in Summit County sees high demand for appointments

Summit Co. Testing 1
Summit Co. Testing 2
Posted at 3:44 PM, Dec 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-28 18:55:18-05

AKRON, Ohio — The demand for testing at the newest pop-up site in Akron was so big that more appointments were added for the first two days it operated.

The Summit County drive-thru testing site will process more than 300 tests each day. It will run until Dec. 30 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. then resume on January 2. At that point, people can get tested seven days a week.

"So when a person arrives at our testing site, the first thing you're going to see is our community volunteers. People who are giving their time to help with this effort," said Summa Health spokesperson Michael Bernstein.

The site is staffed by volunteers and more than a dozen Ohio National Guard members. Appointments for Tuesday and Wednesday went fast, "and we expect them to continue to do so," Bernstein said.

County health leaders wanted to get the testing out earlier but it takes time to coordinate.

"But with the holiday and trying to get everything set up - and logistically it takes a little while to get everything in order - Tuesday was the earliest we could launch the mass site," Summit County Health Commissioner Donna Skoda said on Monday, the day before the site opened. She said people who are returning from traveling or seeing friends and family can get tested easily now.

Finding tests over the last two weeks has been difficult. At-home test kits and appointments at sites like the drive-thru at the Cleveland Clinic were gone within hours, sometimes minutes.

But Bernstein said continued testing is crucial.

"Continue to look at the available testing locations," he said. "Continue to look at the store for the at-home tests and know that that availability will continue to increase."

More testing can mean higher case counts, but local health experts said that's important information, especially with the Omicron variant spreading rapidly. In the last seven days, data from the Centers for Disease Control show Summit County recorded more than 6,300 new cases of the virus and 247 new hospitalizations.

With appointments filling up quickly, Bernstein said there are things to do while waiting for results.

"If you don't feel well, make sure you're isolated from others," he said. "And then be diligent in looking at the resources that are available."

Appointments at the site can only be made online here. Although appointments are fully booked for Tuesday, the site says to return and attempt to register at noon on Wednesday.