AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - From the beginning of the pandemic, testing quickly became a vital step toward containment.
While vaccines have taken over the COVID-19 conversation, testing continues to be an important part of the fight against the virus today.
Although, it may be nice to envision a world without COVID-19, it is not realistic to think COVID-19 will simply disappear.
That is why health officials say COVID-19 testing is here to stay.
“Most likely what is going to happen is that you are just going to see COVID-19 testing integrated into testing that is normally happening in a lab,” said Dr. Katie Bennett, Ph.D., associate professor of Molecular Pathology, TTUHSC Department of Laboratory Sciences and Primary Care.
She adds the drive-thru testing sites will go away, but when you wake up with a cough or have a temperature, your doctor will probably now also test for COVID-19, as well other viruses like the flu.
Test are also just becoming more common. There are at-home test you can buy at the grocery store or combined tests that check for both the flu and COVID-19.
Here in Amarillo, we are seeing how important it is to continue testing.
“We had five percent of our out-patient test were positive for COVID now that is huge because again, we were up 35 to 40 percent back in November, December, and we have been down as much as one and two percent,” said Dr. Brian Weiss, chief medical officer at Northwest Texas Healthcare System “But as Dr. Milton indicated, we are seeing a gradual increase to where we have been at four to five percent.”
Over the last week we have seen an increase of over 100 cases in the Amarillo area.
According to the Director of Public Health, the city’s drive-thru testing site has also seen traffic pick up a bit.
On the other hand, testing is also helping us track the growing number of variants.
“The discovery of variants really did occur in the laboratory because we started to see changes in how the testing results were coming out,” said Dr. Bennett “You know everything has been so uncertain with COVID for so long, we want to start getting ahead of it and if we can start making some predictions about what might happen it will make us better at responding.”
So far, that seems to be working in our area.
Both BSA and Northwest Texas hospitals are sending test results to labs to check for variants. Northwest Texas says out of the 75 test they sent, two came back as variants which helps have a better idea of the situation here.