Howard County’s COVID-19 testing site is changing the hours of its mobile testing clinic, its check-in procedure again, and is now offering a rapid testing option.

Now, clients who have pre-registered online will be prioritized to honor the appointment schedule, according to a press release from the Howard County Health Department. Therefore, it’s recommended to register online before checking in.

Also, the health department is now asking clients to enter the building to check-in and then to wait in their cars to be called and allowed into the clinic, located at 620 N. Bell St., for their test.

Earlier this month, the health department announced that clients would need to stay in their car when arriving and call ahead to check-in and then wait in their car for their time to be tested. But that resulted in the clinic being inundated with phone calls and employees and phone lines were quickly overwhelmed.

This week’s change is yet another tweak made by the health department to figure how to best handle the 250-350 tests the site conducts daily due to the high community spread of the virus, and limit wait times as best as possible.

According to Kristina Sommers, the public health emergency coordinator for the county health department, the clinic might go back to the call-in check-in process in the future.

Rapid testing available

The county COVID testing site is now offering rapid tests that produce results in approximately 15 minutes.

The clinic now offers BinaxNOW antigen rapid tests, which clients can now choose to have instead of the nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs and anterior nares (AN) swabs, though those options are still available for those who prefer or need those kinds of tests.

Sommers estimates that clients who choose the rapid test will be in and out of the clinic and know their tests results in about an hour’s time.

While the antigen rapid test is still considered highly accurate and gives results in a much faster time as opposed to the NP and AN swabs, which take two to four days, it can be less reliable than the NP and AN swabs.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, antigen rapid tests are “more likely to miss an active COVID-19 infection compared to molecular tests” and that a follow-up molecular test, such as a nasopharyngeal swab could be needed.

Those wanting to schedule a test should visit scheduling.coronavirus.in.gov to schedule an appointment and should choose the option, “I do not have an invitation code.” Testing is free.

Those who do not have internet access may call the clinic at 456-7330 to schedule an appointment.

Mobile clinic hours change

The hours of the county’s mobile testing clinic will now be noon to 4 p.m. every Friday in December and January, due to the winter weather, according to a press release from the Howard County Health Department.

The mobile clinic’s location each week is as follows:

  • First Friday of the month: Kokomo-Howard County Public Library Russiaville branch, 315 Mesa Dr., Russiaville.
  • Second Friday of the month: UAW 685 parking lot, 929 E. Hoffer St., Kokomo.
  • Third Friday of the month: Community Family Medicine Care parking lot, 118 S. Meridian St., Greentown.
  • Fourth Friday of the month: Kokomo-Howard County Public Library South Branch parking lot, 1755 E. Center Rd., Kokomo.
  • Fifth Friday of the month: Ivy Tech parking lot, 1942 E. North St., Kokomo.

The mobile clinic is closed during certain weather conditions and on state holidays, such as Christmas on Friday, Dec. 25, and New Year’s Day on Friday, Jan. 1, 2021.

Tyler Juranovich can be reached at 765-454-8577, by email at tyler.juranovich@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter at @tylerjuranovich

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