LAS VEGAS (FOX5)-- The Silver State has seen a surge in COVID-19 testing. A few weeks ago, it was a struggle to get tested, even if a person had coronavirus symptoms.
“There has been a slow ramping up across the country,” UNLV School of Medicine’s Dr. Michael Gardner said. “We finally got the testing we need.”
UNLV has had the longest running test site in the valley. It started in March, but at one point, nearly had to shut down because of a lack of tests.
“We are still booked every day, we’re booking about 300 people,” Dr. Gardner said.
Clark County teamed up with UMC to open one of the valley’s latest test sites. It started with 300 tests per day but has quadrupled that. It is now able to perform 1,200 tests daily.
“Many days we have more slots available than people actually show up,” Clark County’s Fire Chief John Steinbeck said. “The thing that was holding us back a little bit was our ability to have collection kits more so than lab capacity. Collection kit supplies are getting better.”
“There’s plenty of room in the pool for everybody so anybody that wants to jump in and help out,” Dr. Gardner said. Walmart has also opened two testing sites in the valley.
With more test sites, the valley has also seen a surge in test kits.
“I think there’s been more federal money coming in, I think factories needed time to ramp up. They can’t turn on a dime,” Dr. Gardner said. “It takes a while to tool up and to get the materials, we’re doing better with that.”
Until recently, the entire nation was facing a shortage. States were competing with each other for those hard-to-find kits.
“I think the competition overall is less than it was,” Dr. Gardner said.
“We’re not in that situation anymore,” Steinbeck said. “We really want to do community wide testing and get large samples of everybody.”
He said testing asymptomatic people and tracing positive cases will be the key to reopening safely.
“If we are going to open back up, which we all want to open up and be Las Vegas again, we have to be the best at testing,” Steinbeck said.
“I do think it helps relieve people and helps people feel better about opening back up,” Dr. Gardner said. “It’s one thing to say restaurants are open, but if nobody will go because they’re afraid to go, then that’s not helping the restaurant owner, that’s not helping the tax base.”
Clark County is also deploying strike teams across the valley and to more rural areas to test small groups of people.
The City of Henderson also announced a new test site that will begin at the Fiesta Casino on May 19.