COVID-19 testing increases in Helena with recent uptick in cases

COVID Testing
Posted at 5:00 PM, Nov 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-21 01:32:06-05

HELENA — Pureview Health Center upgraded their drive-thru COVID-19 testing site from their parking lot to the now facilities at the Lewis & Clark County Fairgrounds. It is just in time as with the recent increase of COVID-19 cases also means an increase of testing.

"We were holding steady at about 120-130 people on average on testing each day, but it's gone up to 200 at this point," says Jill Steeley, the CEO of Pureview.

Pureview is only testing those who are symptomatic or a contact to another COVID-19 case. St. Peter's Health is only testing those with a doctor’s order and they, too, are seeing an increase in testing. Before November 16th, they had an average of testing 100-140 people a day. November 16th broke that average by testing 270 people and they have been in the 200s ever since.

"I would say it was a pretty constant increase, but nothing like we saw [the week of November 16th]," says Rhonda Hinrichs, Practice Administrator for St. Peter’s Health.

St. Peter’s also changed the organization of their operations to test more people by adding in another lane and using parking spaces. Waiting time varies day to day, but both Pureview and St. Peter's admit Mondays are their busiest days. Sometimes, people wait for an hour to get a test.

Both organizations admit their resources are stretched thin with the increase of testing.

"That volume means we tested somebody every three and a half minutes. So, yeah, we're getting some pretty, weary soldiers out there," says Hinrichs.

"I do get concerned about more and more testing that needs to be done as the cases go up and up,” says Steeley. “It is maximizing our resources at this point, but we're going to keep doing it, because we think it's important for the community to be able to get tested."

Both Pureview and Saint Pete’s expect this trend of increased testing throughout the holiday season.

St. Pete says that COVID-19 positivity rates are so high in the community, they are continuing to encourage the community to stay home when feeling sick.

Pureview also agrees that people need to stay home and that COVID-19 is widespread across our community.