A ‘tripledemic’ could impact Nevadans, but precautionary testing is cause for concern

A winter surge is of particular concern amid recent changes to the level of oversight that authorities have over COVID-19 cases, as well as access to testing.
Published: Oct. 27, 2022 at 10:21 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - A winter surge is of particular concern amid recent changes to the level of oversight that authorities have over COVID-19 cases, as well as access to lab testing. That’s according to the CEO of a COVID testing lab company in Las Vegas.

“With this potential tri-demic, we really are in a spot that is really going to harm not only our health but also the business of southern Nevada,” said Dan Briggs, President and CEO of MDX labs.

The concerns are heightened by a possible mixture of widespread illness from COVID-19, RSV, and the flu, which is expected by many health experts to be bad this year.

Briggs said his main concerns stem from this year’s changes to both public behaviors, and the way data is reported. He said another surge could sneak up on us before we’re aware it’s even happening.

MDX Labs experienced first-hand the steep drops in lab-testers for COVID this year, which they attribute to two separate events, starting with the government announcing in March that COVID tests would no longer be free for uninsured people.

“Without the ability with someone without insurance to go get a COVID test, and know that that’s not going to financially harm them, we’re asking them to continue on into the population, potentially continuing to spread what is an ongoing pandemic,” said Briggs.

He mentioned this summer’s COVID surge as an example of what can come from that.

“During the summer, when nobody was getting tested, and we had this spike, and we saw the positivity rates jump and people get ill, nobody was getting tested. They weren’t being reported, so it went unseen,” said Briggs.

Is this concern, coupled with how-- so often, now-- at-home COVID tests are being used.

“With the at-home tests, so many people feel as though they have access,” said Briggs.

He pointed out how they are being used in place of lab tests.

“Positives don’t get reported, and that’s part of the reason why we don’t see the surge in numbers, and people don’t feel the impetus to go out and get tested and be more vigilant should they feel ill,” said Briggs.

As a rule of thumb, labs like his do report positive results to the government.

So without the reporting of at-home tests, “it leaves a lot of us blind and very vulnerable to the pandemic,” according to Briggs.

That is why he is calling on Nevadans to stay vigilant as we head into the winter season, and always opt for a lab test if you test positive on an at-home test or have symptoms.

“Having that knowledge of your health, and that ability to go out and make those choices is key. And right now those choices have been restricted,” said Briggs. “MDX labs, we brought in testing for flu A and B, RSV, and COVID, so we can do all of them. So if someone doesn’t feel well, we test for all.”

The Southern Nevada Health District’s spokesperson told FOX5 Thursday, “even though at-home COVID tests don’t get reported, they’re still a good resource for people.”

She added that, ahead of a possible winter COVID surge, it is important to get the vaccine or the booster. She said the updated booster is now available for everyone five and older.

She also added that “one of their number-one updated recommendations is that people need to get the flu shot, as well.”

Staying home if you feel sick is another behavior she hopes people will continue to take seriously ahead of this season.