ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Many people are looking for COVID-19 tests after traveling and seeing family over the holiday weekend.
But, thanks to high demand for tests across the country, testing sites are struggling to give COVID-19 tests to all of the people seeking them. Tests are in limited supply.
Testing sites in St. Louis County
St. Louis County clinics reopened Monday after they were closed for the holidays. But because of the national shortage, you won't be able to walk in and get a test anymore.
St. Louis County is no longer accepting walk-ins at the three county health centers in Pine Law, Berkeley and Sunset Hills. You have to make an appointment.
Even if you have an appointment, you should expect a long wait when you arrive for your test.
On Thursday, Dec.30, testing hours will be limited to just two hours of the day. Tests will be available by appointment from 8 a.m. – 10 a.m. Clinic workers will make every effort to email your test results by the end of the day.
The clinics will be closed on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, reopening for normal hours Monday, January 3.
Strain on the testing system
Clinics are feeling the strain and so are hospitals, as more people come in to be treated for COVID.
Not all states are seeing a rise in hospitalizations. Almost half of the states report lower COVID-19 admissions and fewer people in ICU beds.
But in Missouri, hospital beds are filling up with COVID-19 patients. The numbers are trending back up.
Statewide, 19% of the inpatient bed capacity is available.
Over in Illinois, an increase in hospitalizations can be seen too. Twenty percent of the state’s hospital beds are unoccupied right now.
The omicron variant made up 73% of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. last week.
Dr. Anthony Fauci describes the variant as "extraordinarily contagious.” He warned that while studies show omicron is not causing more severe illness, the increase in cases is the real danger to our hospital systems right now.
We are already starting to see that being reflected locally.
SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital shared a Facebook post on Sunday saying many of their hospitals are overwhelmed with patients because of the spike in cases.
SSM says most of its resources are going toward caring for a growing number of unvaccinated COVID-19 patients.
The health system is taking appointments for COVID vaccinations and boosters to try to protect more people and lighten the load on their health workers.
For information on where to find a COVID-19 vaccine in your area, text the word TEST to 314-425-5355 to receive a link with test locations, or click here.
Experts still urge vaccines for eligible people. It's not too late to start vaccination or get a booster shot for those who meet the respective eligibility requirements.