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County working to increase testing capacity as demand skyrockets post holidays

Demand for testing has exploded in recent weeks, making it difficult for some to get a test in the Coachella Valley. On Monday, nearly all appointments were booked on curative.com – the county’s online testing portal. 

Riverside County released a statement addressing the increased demand: 

We anticipated an increase in demand for testing and ordered and received assistance from the state (additional testing supplies) prior to the holidays. Before the holidays we were only utilizing approximately 40% of our testing capacity at test sites in the county so we had room to absorb a fair amount of grown in demand. We did not anticipate the explosive demand for testing due to Omicron. That was compounded by a mid December recommendation from the governor for students and staff to be tested prior to returning to school. We are currently working with our testing partners to expand testing capacity and should have announcements on that later this week.

-County of Riverside Emergency Management Department

As of Tuesday morning, appointments were once again available on curative.com. However, by noon, all same-day appointments were booked.

“It’s changed dramatically it’s hard to get a test," said Carolyn Hume, a part-time valley resident.

“You have to constantly be looking…it was difficult," said Micheline Proux, another part-time local.

As referenced in the statement above, the county says demand is high because of holiday travel, the highly contagious Omicron variant and now also the recommendation that valley students and staff get tested before returning to campuses.

“With Omicron…we just did not expect the demand to be as great as it has been," said Shane Reichardt, Senior PIO, RivCo Emergency Management Dept.

Reichardt says they are working with the state to increase testing capacity here in the valley. By the end of this week they hope to increase hours at certain testing locations and the number of available tests.

If you’re looking to book an appointment, the county recommends checking curative.com or gettested.ruhealth.org in the early morning or late at night, as they are adding more appointments daily and cancellations happen.

“That’s probably going to be your best bet to find those available appointments," said Reichardt.

If you search curative.com this week and enter a Coachella Valley zip code, it's possible you'll see a message that reads "no results found." The county says this likely means there are no appointments available at that moment.  

Other testing options include checking with your healthcare provider, urgent cares, local pharmacies or Covid Clinic – a drive through site with locations in Palm Springs and Palm Desert.

No matter where you go, they say it’s best to call ahead to check availability first.

The county also recommends building extra time into your day when getting a test, as wait times are longer than usual. They say the current expected turnaround time for results is between 36 and 50 hours.

Reichardt added that emergency rooms have seen an increased number of people showing up asking to be tested. As ERs are busy with other emergencies, they are encouraging people to pursue other testing locations instead.

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Madison Weil

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