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Demand for coronavirus testing grows, doctors work to keep up

Posted at 8:47 PM, Aug 05, 2020

CLEVELAND — Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic say they try to answer the same question every day. “How can we expand testing?” The hospital conducted about 1,800 COVID-19 tests on Tuesday.

But it’s not enough as the demand for more tests continues to rise. Dr. Gary Procop, Medical Director and Co-Chair of Cleveland Clinic’s Enterprise Laboratory Stewardship Committee says their goal is to reach 5,000 daily COVID-19 tests.

“We are still not where we need to be,” said Procop. “We could probably do about maybe around 2,500 tests but that’s really pushing the system to its limits.”

The Cleveland Clinic’s numbers make up a small portion of the state’s daily testing rate. On July 15, Ohio recorded more than 28,000 tests, which is the highest number reported in the state since March.

However, the numbers are now trending downward with just under 19,000 tests reported on Tuesday.

“Having a situation where everyone’s tested every day, I just don’t think that’s feasible,” Procop said. “The reagents, the supplies even things like plastics like plastic pipet tips, plastic plates in which we do the testing are in short supply.”

Procop says that’s why tests are not available to everyone. At many sites, like the Cleveland Clinic – you have to exhibit coronavirus symptoms or be considered high-risk.

“This whole idea of everyone who wants to test go get a test we’re just going to use up our resources,” he said.

He says for those testing for COVID-19 out of pure curiosity, it’s causing a backlog, meaning they’re delaying test results for everyone. If that continues through another surge, Procop says “we will not be prepared. I mean we wouldn’t even have the resources.”