While the United States continues to deal with a worsening surge of COVID-19 cases, President Biden announced a new plan to deal with the pandemic on Tuesday. A big part of that plan is providing Americans with greater access to COVID-19 testing, as experts say the number of Omicron variant cases is rising at an unprecedented rate, and that it’s important to identify each case.
“One of the other things that we know that has to be done is more testing,” Biden said. “The federal government will purchase one-half billion – that’s not million, billion with a ‘b’ – additional at-home rapid tests, with delivery starting in January.”
For people living here in the Quad Cities, better access to COVID-19 testing should come as welcome news, because there are no state-run testing sites on either side of the river. Iowa did away with state-run testing sites in favor of take-home tests over the summer, while in Illinois, the nearest state-run testing site is 90 minutes away in Peoria.
“We would love to see more testing availability,” said Janet Hill, chief operating officer of the Rock Island County Health Department. “We’ve never had a full-time state testing site here, and we really wish that that were the case.”
Because of that, pharmacies and hospitals in the Quad Cities have been left to provide the bulk of COVID-19 testing. However, they’re now running low too.
“I know someone who had an appointment at a local pharmacy that had to be canceled today because they didn’t have any test kits available,” Hill said. “Right now you have to kind of stalk the pharmacies for when a BinaxNow may or may not be in stock.”
As far as fighting off COVID-19 goes, Biden and health officials continue to push vaccination.
“Almost everyone who has died from COVID-19 the past many months has been un-vaccinated,” Biden said.