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Arkansas hospitals seeing huge increase in COVID-19 testing

As the omicron variant continues to spread in central Arkansas, testing has skyrocketed as a result, with UAMS seeing three times as many people as they usually do.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — As the omicron variant continues to spread in central Arkansas, testing has skyrocketed as a result, with UAMS seeing three times as many people as they usually do.

"Now we're seeing 700 or 800 patients a day with expanded hours and expanding through weekend hours as well," Dr. Michelle Krause, a leader of the UAMS COVID response team, said.

If you've been trying to get a test, then you probably already know that it hasn't been the easiest thing to do.

"Made us turn away or had to shut down our clinic early because we just couldn't get all the patients through," Dr. Krause said.

There's good news though as she said there's tests available now, which hasn't always been the case recently. 

But, one thing that hasn't changed much though are the lines – those at the hospital have stayed busy.

"We have that ability to offer help, testing for those in need," Dr. Krause said.

But what are you supposed to do if you can't sit in line for a test? 

State health officials have said the best thing to do if you're showing symptoms is to assume you're positive.

"So if people are having symptoms of COVID-19 and they can't get tested, they should stay home," Dr. Jennifer Dillaha with the Arkansas Department of Health, said.

Despite that, Dr. Dillaha said you should still try and get a PCR test like the ones offered at UAMS.

But, if you're showing symptoms and you're having to wait, health officials said it's safer to assume you're positive.

"If there's other people in the household, you need to stay in a different room. If you have to go in the same room, you should wear a mask," Dr. Dillaha said.

Dr. Krause said it cold be a couple weeks until we're past the peak of this surge, but the most important thing now is patience.

"We are really trying, and I know everyone is really trying to increase our efficiency so we don't have people waiting as long, so they don't get discouraged and leave," she said.

Dr. Dillaha said the department of health is ordering 1.5 million at-home tests for Arkansans and that more information will be released early next week.

She also said that those tests will be free.

For those that are looking to get tested, UAMS' clinic is open every day from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

   

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