RIDOH makes changes to keep up with testing demand

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — As the new COVID wave hits, demand for testing is growing significantly, putting pressure on testing sites like the Rhode Island Convention Center.

Friday there was a steady line of cars along Exchange Street leading to the convention center, as people waited to get tested.

That follows yesterday’s massive traffic jams and long wait times.

The Department of Health says yesterday was unusual because the testing site was closed for Veterans Day the prior day.

“There was a lot of pent-up demand for testing on Thursday which contributed to some of the lines that people saw,” said Joseph Wendelken of  RIDOH. “Another issue is that people show up when they don’t have appointments, or they show up an hour before an appointment or an hour after the appointment, and that kind of mucks up the flow a little bit.”

But still, RIDOH recognizes the overall testing need is growing, and says it’s changing in response.

“This is really an unprecedented situation,” Wendelken said. “There are things that are going to come up day-to-day. We have a team that’s literally working on this 24/7 as things come up. We troubleshoot them, we address them.”

Wendelken says this week RIDOH is adding 100 new testing slots a day to the RI Convention Center, and adding appointments at testing sites in Newport and Cumberland.

Also, the Wickford Junction K-12 testing site is now opening up to the general public, adding another 500 tests a day.

RIDOH is not hiring staff to accomplish this though, rather simply shifting around existing staff and the National Guard.

As for test results? Now they’re streamlined in one place: Portal.ri.gov/results.

“You can log in and get your test result no matter where you’ve been tested in Rhode Island, which will hopefully make this process a little bit more straightforward and little bit less complicated for people.”

The health department is recommending testing for people who have symptoms or may have been exposed, and regular asymptomatic testing is recommended for high-contact workers who interact with the public.

©WLNE-TV/ABC6 2020

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Rhode Island