Mobile unit has testing success

Greene County Public Health’s mobile testing operation tested nearly 240 people free of charge. Contributed photo

CATSKILL — Greene County’s mobile COVID testing unit concluded its inaugural week in Catskill with nearly 240 tests, according to Greene County Public Health.

Set up in the Lumberyard parking lot on Water Street in the village of Catskill, Greene County Public Health said it tested 239 people, finding a total of 27 positive cases through Oct. 8.

On the second day, the unit tested 55 people, Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said.

Groden said the initial concern was that many people would show up at once and be put off by having to wait for a test, but the amount of staffing was adequate for the number of visitors.

“It didn’t necessarily overwhelm us, and that was my fear,” he said.

No appointments are needed and testing is free of charge.

Testing is offered only to people with symptoms, people who have been in contact with a positive person seven to 10 days after exposure and students kindergarten through 12th grade who return to school after positive contact or symptoms, according to Greene County Public Health.

Testing is not available for work, travel or voluntary reasons, Greene County Public Health said. The rapid tests give results in 15 minutes.

The mobile unit will set up in different communities in the county to offer services, as the first week was a test run of the operation, Groden said. The unit is looking to move to the mountaintop next for testing.

He said as people are calling in for testing, Greene Countpublic health has been asking where they live to see where the tests might be most needed next to determine the movement of the unit.

The tests, called ID NOW, and created by Abbott, amplify the viral RNA of a nasal swab hundreds of millions of times to make the virus detectable, according to the company’s website.

“ID NOW is at the forefront of molecular testing technology because of the isothermal process by which the virus is quickly extracted and magnified at a constant temperature,” John Hackett Jr., divisional vice president of applied research and technology for Abbott’s Diagnostics business, said in a statement. “This technology is so important when testing in hotspots and in decentralized health care settings, where sometimes the lab isn’t an option.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, point-of-care tests such as ID NOW have a “moderate to high” test sensitivity.

Groden said the success of the operation depends on staffing as well. The unit itself is designed to be an emergency command vehicle for disaster situations that one person drives while other staff members drive themselves to the location.

“It’s also mainly staffed with volunteers,” he said.

Greene County has 116 active COVID cases and a 6.73% positivity rate as of Oct. 12, according to the CDC. Of the eligible population, 61.4% have been vaccinated.

The county has conducted 1,188 tests in the last seven days as of Oct. 6, according to the CDC.

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