Galilee Baptist Church testing site

Cars line up at Galilee Baptist Church in Shreveport Thursday for free Covid-19 testing

SHREVEPORT, La. — Ochsner LSU Health canceled its community testing for COVID-19 Thursday.

According to Greg Sonnenfeld, an Assistant Vice President who oversees testing for the hospital, the air conditioning broke at Oasis Outreach Group on Russell Road and Ochsner could not secure a new testing site in time.

Up to 150 people could have been tested at the site, which is Ochsner’s daily capacity for each  community testing site. Sonnenfeld said that in recent days, that limit has been reached on a daily basis.

Hesitant to say that some people who showed up were unable to get a test, Sonnenfeld said, “Most of the time they come back the next day.”

Sonnenfeld said most people who arrive at the testing site receive a test within an hour, although he has heard reports of wait times up to two-and-a-half hours. Still, he was optimistic that the demand would not significantly impact turnaround time for test results.

Sonnenfeld said Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport is still working to expand its testing capacity as demand and positivity rates increase. The hospital group is hiring two additional testing teams in north Louisiana. 

LSU Health Shreveport, which operates community testing sites separately from Ochsner, is also seeing an increase in demand for COVID-19 tests.

The line at Thursday’s testing site, Galilee Baptist Church, was dozens of cars long around lunch time.

Andrew Yurochko, who helps oversee LSU Health Shreveport’s EVT lab, said he has noticed that more people have grown concerned in recent days about possible exposure to Covid-19. He estimates roughly 300 people have shown up at community testing sites on some days. 

“Which is wonderfully encouraging that people are doing that, but also horribly frightening, knowing that these are people that are concerned enough to be tested,” Yurochko said. “It’s sort of a double-edged sword in that sense.”

According to Yurochko, LSU Health Shreveport purchases four to six weeks worth of testing supplies at the time. He does not foresee any supply issues moving forward.

A spokeswoman for the Willis-Knighton Health System said it tested more than 3,200 patients for Covid-19 last week.

As of June 24, the most recent testing date for which positivity data is available from the Louisiana Department of Health, the Shreveport/Bossier City region had a positive test rate of 9.6%, compared to just more than 11% statewide.

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