Area urgent cares and emergency departments are busy right now for many reasons. For that fact, Adair County Health System officials are advising people who would like to be tested for COVID-19 but are asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms to go utilize various free test-at-home options instead.
“If you test positive on a rapid antigen test at home, please do not go to a clinic or emergency department for an additional verified test if you have mild symptoms or are not at high risk of illness,” officials said. “You should assume that the rapid antigen test is accurate, stay home, and follow [Centers for Disease Control] isolation guidance. If you still need a test confirmed for your employer, please utilize the free take home Test Iowa test kit.”
Free at-home options include the Test Iowa test kits that are available by going to testiowa.gov or the Adair County Health System clinic during office hours. Other at-home testing options are available at pharmacies such as NuCara, Walmart and Hy-Vee. Free rapid tests can be shipped to residents on request at covidtests.gov.
An influx in people coming to urgent care with mild upper respiratory symptoms that are consistent with both COVID and the common cold has caused increased wait times. It has also impacted how many contagious people are in the waiting room at a given time and the availability of test kits. This also impacts lab result wait times and causes delays in providers being able to see patients who do not have COVID symptoms. This is also impacting hospital beds in the city and the ability for rural hospitals like Adair County’s to transfer patients who need more advanced care.
Officials say positivity rates are very high right now due to the Omicron variant, which is “much more contagious than previous variants, including Delta.” According to the Iowa Coronavirus Dashboard, Adair County Tuesday had seen 81 positive tests in the last 14 days. There isn’t any one age group that has had considerably more positive tests than another, with the 40 to 49-year-old age group seeing 19% of them in that two-week period.
“The good news is that although positivity rates are skyrocketing, hospitalizations and death rates have not increased at the same rate as they did during the last highest peak in November 2020,” officials said. “This is largely due to COVID vaccinations, which are helping decrease severe illness.”
Hospital officials say the influenza scene is “moderate” right now around the area with activity higher than last season, but lower than numerous years prior to COVID. Schools are, however, reporting more than 10% illness statewide, which is the highest it has ever been and may be due to the collective impact of all respiratory illnesses, including influenza, COVID and common colds.
“This may be due, in part, to masking, social distancing and hand washing, however it is still highly recommended that people receive the influenza vaccine,” they said. “Influenza can cause hospitalization, and even death.”
According to Adair County Public Health officials, they administer COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters by appointment on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during office hours in order to limit vaccine waste. Moderna (18+), Pfizer (12+), Pfizer Pediatric (5-11) and Janssen (18+) are all currently available. Officials say Moderna and Pfizer are officially recommended over the Janssen vaccine because of an increased chance for blood clots in the Janssen vaccine.
“Anyone over 12 years old who was vaccinated with either Moderna or Pfizer vaccine is recommended to get a booster after five months. Anyone who received a J&J is recommended to get a booster two months later,” ACPH officials said. “It is very important to get a booster dose if you are eligible because protection has shown to wane over time.”
Adair County Public Health may be reached at 641-743-6173.