Demand for COVID-19 testing is surging again as delta variant spreads

Urgent care clinics across Georgia have been seeing a big jump in people coming in for testing for the last two or three weeks. 

The traffic cones, the tents, and the lines of cars waiting for COVID-19 testing are back at the Viral Solutions testing site in Decatur.

A month ago, co-founder Ron Sanders says, they were averaging about 70 to 80 tests a day.

COVID-19 Delta variant symptoms: What we know and what to look for

Now, he says, they are doing about 400, more than five times where they were four weeks ago.

Across town at Highland Urgent Care in Virginia Highland,  Dr. Nicholas Beaulieu and his team opened a walk-up window for testing.

Two or three weeks ago, Dr. Beaulieu says, they were doing just two or three tests a day.

"Friday we did about 45," Beaulieu says.  "We're averaging between 30 and 40 a day now. So, definitely on the upswing."

For those getting tested, like Bethany Farmer, a restaurant worker who is fully vaccinated, there is a frustrating sense of deja vu.

"It's heartbreaking honestly," Farmer says.  "You're kind of akin to whiplash. You think, 'Oh, here we're going in this direction!' And then it's, 'Oh, pysch! We're back over here!'"

Farmer says she's been feeling dizzy and achy for a few days. 

Today, she says, she began feeling congested.

"I'm supposed to work tonight," Farmer says. "So I don't want to put people in jeopardy or in an unsafe situation if I am positive.  So, just being safe."

Dr. Beaulieu says many of those coming in for testing are people from the community he vaccinated.

"I know of 5 of the cases that have been breakthroughs, people that we vaccinated here who have come back positive," Beaulieu says. "No one has gotten really sick, but they have definitely had symptoms enough to show up and be tested."

He blames the highly contagious delta variant of the virus.

"(It's) highly transmissible, even for vaccinated people, who can carry that variant and spread it to other people," Beaulieu says.  "They're not getting (as) sick, but there is definitely the ability, even after getting vaccinated, to harbor it in your nose and pass it on to somebody else."

To qualify for COVID-19 testing, you typically need to either have been exposed to someone with the virus or be experiencing symptoms.
Viral Solutions' Ron Sanders says they are asking people if they are vaccinated.

He says about 15% of those who are unvaccinated are testing positive, about 5% of those fully vaccinated, which he says is high.
Dr. Beaulieu says they're seeing different symptoms with the delta variant.

"Before it would be rare to see a sore throat in someone who truly had corona," Beaulieu says. "You would think sore throat probably not corona.  Now, seeing a lot more sore throat, maybe a worsening headache. " 

About 12% of the tests in Georgia are coming back positive for COVID-19.  

That is high and indicated high transmission levels in the community.   

If you've been fully vaccinated and you're experiencing symptoms, Dr. Beaulieu says, isolate and get tested.

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