Omaha testing site closed down because of supplies shortage

Published: Jul. 6, 2020 at 6:59 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Healthcare providers are enduring another problem when it comes to coronavirus testing.

The Douglas County Health Department and the University of Nebraska Medical Center shut down a test site in south Omaha because of a shortage of lab supplies.

Those seeking to be tested for COVID-19 will have to turn elsewhere.

The call was made July 4 to shut down the 50th and G Streets test site because two crucial pieces of testing supplies are running low nationwide.

6 News was told Nebraska will not be a priority when supply manufacturers catch up with demand.

“That company is getting requests from all over the country and they’re prioritizing the states where the cases are surging right now,” said Dr. Anne O’Keefe, Douglas County Health Department Senior Epidemiologist.

Dr. O’Keefe says three manufacturers supply the country with processing plates and pipet tips, which allow labs to run high volumes of coronavirus tests.

“They can only get them from the company that builds the machines because they’re specialized for that machine,” Dr. O’Keefe said.

Hundreds were tested at the site before it was shut down. It’s possible some are still waiting for results because of the supply shortage.

“I have not heard that there’s going to be a long delay for the people that have already been tested,” Dr. O’Keefe said. “I think they’re working to catch up.”

Until manufacturers can catch up, Dr. O’Keefe and UNMC said people in need of testing should turn to other sites. But Dr. O’Keefe fears other sites will only test high priority patients in the future.

You should call ahead to make sure you can get swabbed.

“We’ve heard from Test Nebraska that they have all the supplies they need; there are no shortages, probably because they were purchased initially,” Dr. O’Keefe said.

Dr. O’Keefe added if you come into contact with someone who is infected, but you cannot get tested, treat yourself as if you’re infected. That means you need to quarantine, self-isolate and monitor your symptoms. She also says people should wear a mask.

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