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Kentucky COVID-19 testing lines longer, labs busier ahead of holiday season

Bluewater Diagnostic Laboratory went from seeing about 30-40 people a day at Southeast Christian Church to nearly 700.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — In the blink of an eye, COVID-19 has once again changed everything. Just days before Thanksgiving, people are rushing to get tested, which wasn't the reality just a few weeks ago.

Dina English, the Marketing Director of Bluewater Diagnostic Laboratory, says they went from seeing less than 100 patients at their Southeast Christian Church drive through location, to hundreds of people lining up and waiting hours.

"We would have 30 to 40 tests that we did the entire day at Southeast Christian, and then a couple of weeks ago, we sat on a four hour wait," said English. 

English says the spike in testing started right after Halloween. Whether it was trick or treaters, or people preparing for holidays, more people started showing up. Dr. Erik Korte, the laboratory director, says their work inside the lab changed drastically.

"So between the first week of November and the second week, we had 3,000 more tests come through the laboratory," Korte said.

Credit: Dina English
Credit: Dina English

Once the lines started to look like this, it became a major safety issue for patients, staff, and visitors and employees of the church. So a voucher system was implemented just a few days ago. Now, they hand out anywhere from 600-700 vouchers to first come first serve patients. When they are gone, they ask the rest of the people in line to come back the next day.

The wait has decreased to about 45 minutes to an hour. The lines have also gotten so long, that law enforcement is now there to help with traffic.

Korte says these changes were necessary because it's important they are able to process tests as fast as possible, and provide results within 48-72 hours. But while they can handle it, the enormous increase of hundreds of tests have put a strain on their employees.

"Every single test that we receive in the morning is run that day," Korte said. "Our shifts used to start at 6:00 in the morning now they start at 4:30 in the morning, there are days that they will continue until midnight."

"We are going to be there and we are going to keep going as long as COVID is still here," English said.

With the increase in demand, Bluewater Diagnostic Laboratory is looking to hire people at their testing locations. If you are interested you can visit their website here.

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