By Dan Spalding
WARSAW – Zimmer Biomet has donated 1,000 rapid tests that were sent directly to the COVID-19 test site at the Kosciusko County Fairgrounds Monday morning, Jan. 10.
However, as a result of the shortage, the Indiana Department of Health is limiting the quick tests to certain age groups. Under new state guidance, rapid antigen tests are currently only available for those 18 or younger, regardless of symptoms; or those who are 50 and older, but symptomatic.
The donation by Zimmer Biomet comes amid the rationing of tests across all of Indiana as the state and nation cope with a shortage of quick tests while demand continues to grow.
The test facility run by Bowen Center has gone without quick tests for about a month, leaving those wanting one with tests that currently take three to five days for results.
The number of COVID-19 cases identified in Indiana is currently close to reaching an all-time high over the course of the two-year-old pandemic.
“There’s a lot of people very worried and very scared and they have symptoms,” said Bob Weaver, Kosciusko County Health Department administrator. “There’s a lot of other viruses going around, but that’s the first one you think of when you get symptoms. They wanna be tested, so the demand for tests is extremely high right now.”
The quick test delivers results in about 10 minutes. Results for the more traditional test are taking three to five days.
Based on the number of people seeking tests, Weaver estimated the supply would last for a little more than a week.
The donation came several weeks after Mayor Joe Thallemer talked with Zimmer Biomet officials about the availability of rapid tests. Monday’s response was the result of that conversation.
Matthew Scott, vice president of Zimmer Biomet operations in Warsaw; and Matt Linville, HR senior director, delivered the cases of the tests Monday morning. Those were then relayed over to the fairgrounds where the free testing was underway.
“We’re super happy that we’re able to make the community better, give them some tests to make sure the community is safe,” said Scott. “Anytime we’re called upon to do things like this, we’re happy to take a look at it and try to do the best we can.”
“We’re part of the community and happy to help,” added Linville.
Weaver has been working to acquire more tests, but with little luck in recent weeks. He said the state is now limiting the number of tests being provided at lower levels than what they would like.
He obtained about 500 tests a few weeks ago from Fulton County because the tests were close to expiring.
Thallemer said he’s open to other donations from companies.
“We’ll take the tests where we can get them,” Thallemer said.
The clinic is open Monday until 3 p.m.
Tuesday’s clinic hours are noon to 6 p.m.
Other hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.