TUPELO, Mississippi – A clinic in Tupelo is using their stock of rapid tests for COVID-19 at an alarming rate.
MedPlus in Tupelo received about 300 rapid tests just last week and another shipment came in Wednesday morning, but it still wasn’t enough. Although the clinic attempts to reserve the use of rapid-response tests for patients who are already showing symptoms of coronavirus, Nurse Practitioner Lindsay Weatherford told WTVA today that the clinic went through both shipments over the weekend.
Clinics have seen an uptick in COVID-19 testing since Mississippi schools are back in session. As students return to classes, they are exposed to new elements, many of which are beyond their control. For many healthcare providers, new cases were expected. Despite the fact that fewer young people become critically ill due to COVID-19, they do contract and spread the virus, and most medical professionals agree that school buildings will be a major vector of contagion throughout the pandemic.
“This push to open schools is guaranteed to fail,” says Peter Hotez, a pediatrician and molecular virologist, and the dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in an interview with The Atlantic. “In communities with high transmission, it’s inevitable that COVID-19 will enter the schools. Within two weeks of opening schools in communities with high virus transmission, teachers will become ill. All it will take is for a single teacher to become hospitalized with COVID and everything will shut down.”
Weatherford said rapid tests are significantly less painful than standard tests, and are about 80-85% accurate. Because of the gentler testing procedure and the convenience of 5 to 15 minute results, rapid tests are often requested by patients, but because few clinics have the supplies to meet that demand, many have relegated their use to those patients who are admitted with verifiable symptoms of COVID-19.