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COVID-19 tests remain scarce in some places amid reports of high transmission

Health professionals say the shortage is due to the spread of COVID-19 in addition to other illnesses.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Almost two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, COVID-19 tests remain the key in determining whether someone is carrying the illness. 

The demand for these tests has continued to increase, and in some places, the supply has decreased and health professionals say the shortage boils down to two points. One, how much disease is actually circulating around, and two, vaccination status. 

Dr. John Goldman, infectious disease expert for UPMC Central Pa. added that the recent desire for travel hasn't lessened the demand but has increased it. Those wanting to visit family members, especially those who may be elderly, want to make sure they won't pose a risk. 

This need presents a greater use of different testing options between the PCR and antigen tests.

"When we admit people to the hospital, and we're worried about COVID, we check everyone with a PCR," Goldman said. "If you need to get a test before Christmas dinner, the issue is whether or not you can get a PCR that's negative three days before and get COVID, Christmas Day."

Across South Central Pa., the availability of COVID-19 tests varies with Lancaster and WellSpan Health telling FOX43 they currently do not have a shortage.

However, Penn State Health Medical Group administrators have confirmed they are facing high demand and are recommending patients to consult with their primary care providers if they believe they are in need of a test. 

"Testing is offered to symptomatic patients with a doctor’s instruction," Barbara Schindo, media relations specialist for Penn State Health said. "We recommend that people contact their primary care provider or use Penn State Health OnDemand for an evaluation to determine if they should be tested."

Dr. Anthony Fauci has also said that the CDC is considering adding a negative test before leaving isolation as a new recommendation to their updated list of guidelines for isolation and quarantining. 

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