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Long lines gone? Demand for COVID-19 PCR testing appears to be declining

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Several Massachusetts COVID-19 testing sites that were overwhelmed with long lines around the holidays and into early January are now calm as the demand for testing appears to have died down. In Worcester, for example, a testing site at the Mercantile Center had a long queue waiting outside as recently as 10 days ago. But, on Thursday, people could walk right in. It was a similar story at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, where people waited for 45 minutes or more in a line for booster shots and testing before Christmas, but no line stretched outside of the facility at all on Thursday.Data reported by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health shows the number of people seeking laboratory testing for COVID-19 was averaging more than 100,000 per day about two weeks ago. Recently, that number fell below 70,000. One reason could be fewer infections. State data shows the number of new cases, reported deaths and the positive test rate appear to be trending downward from the peak in early January.Other reasons could include the fact that fewer people are traveling or gathering after the holidays and the recent updates to recommendations on who needs to get tested.”We’ve got tens of thousands of pharmacies that are offering free testing now, as well as a lot clinics, health centers, federally qualified health centers that are offering testing,” said Dr. Cameron Webb, White House COVID-19 advisor. “We have more testing locations than ever before. So just because you don’t see a line doesn’t mean that a lot of people still aren’t being tested.”Meanwhile, the state and federal governments are stepping up efforts to distribute at-home rapid tests.The Biden administration is using the Postal Service is to send rapid tests to homes and recently began requiring health insurers to cover the kits.Massachusetts officials have a deal to obtain 26 million additional tests, with plans to use them in schools and child care settings.Results of at-home tests are not required to be reported to the state database.

Several Massachusetts COVID-19 testing sites that were overwhelmed with long lines around the holidays and into early January are now calm as the demand for testing appears to have died down.

In Worcester, for example, a testing site at the Mercantile Center had a long queue waiting outside as recently as 10 days ago. But, on Thursday, people could walk right in.

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It was a similar story at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, where people waited for 45 minutes or more in a line for booster shots and testing before Christmas, but no line stretched outside of the facility at all on Thursday.

Data reported by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health shows the number of people seeking laboratory testing for COVID-19 was averaging more than 100,000 per day about two weeks ago. Recently, that number fell below 70,000.

One reason could be fewer infections. State data shows the number of new cases, reported deaths and the positive test rate appear to be trending downward from the peak in early January.

Other reasons could include the fact that fewer people are traveling or gathering after the holidays and the recent updates to recommendations on who needs to get tested.

“We’ve got tens of thousands of pharmacies that are offering free testing now, as well as a lot clinics, health centers, federally qualified health centers that are offering testing,” said Dr. Cameron Webb, White House COVID-19 advisor. “We have more testing locations than ever before. So just because you don’t see a line doesn’t mean that a lot of people still aren’t being tested.”

Meanwhile, the state and federal governments are stepping up efforts to distribute at-home rapid tests.

The Biden administration is using the Postal Service is to send rapid tests to homes and recently began requiring health insurers to cover the kits.

Massachusetts officials have a deal to obtain 26 million additional tests, with plans to use them in schools and child care settings.

Results of at-home tests are not required to be reported to the state database.

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