By Dan Spalding
WARSAW — Robert Schultz got the news he was hoping for in about 10 minutes.
Schultz was one of many who lined up Wednesday morning to get a free COVID-19 test at the Kosciusko County Fairgrounds.
He said he’s had a sore throat for three days. He was there with his roommate, Chad Hise, who was also under the weather. They both work at Texas Roadhouse and both wanted to get tested.
The line of cars on Wednesday circled around the Shrine Building and led to a doorway where the two men were waiting for results.
A woman with Bowen Center, which is operating the test site, handed both men paperwork indicating the tests were negative.
“That’s awesome! Thank you, ma’am,” Schultz said. “I’ll be able to go back to work.”
Interest in getting tested has risen sharply in Warsaw in recent weeks as the Delta variant continues to spread a more contagious version of the coronavirus.
Last week, the testing clinic was providing upward of 20 tests per day. That number is now closer to 70, said Gamal Hernandez, manager of the test site.
When the clinic opened Wednesday at 10 a.m. – under newly-expanded hours – a long line of cars formed and spilled onto Smith Street. After the initial build-up, the line consisted of 20 or so vehicles lined up shortly before the noon hour. Wait times seemed to vary during the morning, with some saying it was 20 to 30 minutes.
Bowen Center, which has operated the free service since October, announced the second expansion of hours last week to meet the growing demand for tests. The new hours for the clinic are Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Tuesday 2 to 6 p.m.; and the second Saturday of every month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Test recipients can choose between a rapid test or a PCR test that takes a few days for results, he said.
The chance to get an immediate answer appeared to slow the process.
One man in line said he had had a migraine and his employer suggested he get tested. A couple in another car, including a woman on oxygen, said she just felt the need to be tested.
The Indiana State Department of Health reported 5,037 more positive coronavirus cases in its latest update, with 19 additional COVID-19 deaths.
According to the state health department, the Delta variant is responsible for 97% of samples tested this month.
The state website reported 2,048 people are currently hospitalized with COVID – a number that hasn’t been seen since Jan. 24, according to state data.
The state reported 23 new deaths from COVID-19. The daily rate has risen in recent weeks but is not spiking as strongly compared to hospitalizations.
The testing has been one of the highest volume state-sponsored test sites in Indiana.
Bowen Center is operating the clinic on behalf of the Indiana Department of Health and the Kosciusko County Health Department with assistance from the Northern Indiana Hispanic Health Coalition, Ivy Tech Community College – Warsaw, Kosciusko Community Hospital, WJ Carey Construction, the Kosciusko County Fair Board, Wildman Business Group and DM Trump Construction LLC.