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Bowling Green health center sees dramatic increase in COVID-19 drive-up testing

Bluewater Dx

As COVID-19 cases spike across Kentucky, and the nation, the demand for testing has increased. 

WKU Public Radio reporter Rhonda Miller talked with John Lillybridge, CEO of Fairview Community Health Center, about the dramatic increase at the Bowling Green drive-up COVID testing site.

Lillybridge said before the spike, the center was doing 75 ot 80 tests a day.

Lillybridge: Recently, we were back around those same kind of numbers, below 100. As of yesterday, as a matter of fact, we tested 177 people. So, it has gone up dramatically. In the last couple of weeks, we have had as many as six or seven people in a van or an SUV being tested at one time, entire family groups.

Miller: Do you know the youngest age you had tested and the oldest?

Lillybridge: The youngest that I know was about four to six months, and she was positive. I remember that. The oldest is probably in the mid 80s.

Miller: Do you have a perspective on why this has increased so dramatically? And has it just been since after Christmas or after New Year's?

Lillybridge: We have noticed whenever there's a holiday that we have a spike in the number of tests that we do, as well as the positivity rate going up. But we kind of think that it's this latest variant because it is so much more contagious. I think a lot of people are hearing it in the news, a lot of people wanting to travel, or maybe they had family come into town for the holidays. I think there are multiple drivers to the numbers going up. But when we're testing almost 200 people a day, and a majority of those are positive, I think word spreads pretty quickly that you need to go out and get tested.

Miller: So, the majority of those are coming back positive? So, you would say  more than 50 percent?

Lillybridge: More than 50 percent. Absolutely.

Miller: Does that seem surprising or not?

Lillybridge: No, no. Because as I go about, you know, just going out to lunch or shopping or what have you, I'm a proponent of wearing a mask. And I see that the majority of people do not. So, if you have a virus that's easily transmittable, and if you are not vaccinated, I believe the state of Kentucky is still 45 to 50 percent unvaccinated, then you're going to have a lot of people testing positive. You know, you have the folks going back to work. We have our young ones going back to school. So yeah, you have a lot of exposures out there.

Miller: Can people set up an appointment online?

Lillybridge: Yes, they go to Bluewater diagnostic labs. They have an online site where you can make an appointment, and they can come over and get themselves tested. 

Miller: Do people need an appointment? 

Lillybridge: You don't need one. We have people that know that we're testing and then just they will just drive up.

Miller: And what about cost? Do people have to have insurance? 

Lillybridge: You don't have to have insurance, but it helps if you do because that all goes right through the insurance. And if they don't, they just make a note that they don't have insurance.

Miller: And it's fine? They still get tested? 

Lillybridge: Oh, yes, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. 

Miller: And I know that a lot of people now are trying to get at-home tests because it's convenient. And I'm just wondering, because I have been told by medical people that if you take an at-home test and it's positive, you're probably positive, you should get, you know, another test. And if you're negative, it may or may not be a decisive decision.

Lillybridge: If you're taken at-home and it’s positive, you want to go get the PCR because that's the better test versus a rapid test. If you're negative, you might be. I have heard that some of those are providing a false negative. So, it's probably better to get a second opinion. I would go somewhere and get another professional test. Absolutely.

Miller:  Okay. Well, Mr. Lillibridge, thank you so much for talking with me. I really appreciate it.

Lillybridge: You're very welcome. Thank you for calling.

Miller: I've been talking with John Lillybridge, CEO of Fairview Community Health Center. I'm Rhonda Miller in Bowling Green.

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