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Arkansas healthcare officials seeing an increase in COVID-19 testing

Last week, the Department of Health reported three consecutive days of over 1,000 COVID-19 tests.

Healthcare providers like pharmacies and hospitals are reporting an increase in people calling to schedule to get a swab.

Brittany Marsh, owner of Cornerstone Pharmacy on Rodney Parham, said in the last month her staff has seen a rise in people who need to get a test.

"Since summer started people started gathering, [and] there has been a major increase in the testing," said Marsh. "Testing for Covid, last month, probably one to two a day. Now we have gone up to full families, 10 to 15 a day, and it's rising every single day," Marsh said. 

The uptick in testing is concerning for Marsh.

"It's interesting because a lot of people who are getting tested are traveling and going to be with people," Marsh said.

The rise is a similar situation at Jefferson Regional in Pine Bluff, where the Urgent Care drive-thru testing site is now seeing double the people that staff saw last month.

"Our numbers for Covid testing are about back to where we are seeing a steady flow," said Regina Quarles, Director of Practice Management at Jefferson Regional. 

Quarles said the people coming to the drive-thru testing site are those who are experiencing respiratory symptoms.

"The folks that we are seeing come through our drive-thru are actually folks that have symptoms. So these are not folks that got exposed, and they are concerned," Quarles said.

She said if the testing site continues to get busy, her staff is prepared to handle it, but she worries that the state is headed in the wrong direction. 

"The number of tests are going up and the number of vaccines are going down tremendously, so if you look at that curve, it's not a good situation," Quarles said. 

Quarles said last year around this time, the testing site saw anywhere from 50 to 60 patients a day.

As of now, there are scheduling nearly 30 people a day and that number is steadily rising.