Demand for free, drive-thru tests spikes with surge in COVID Omicron variant

COVID-19 testing demands have “skyrocketed within the past few weeks due to holiday gatherings, travel plans, and the highly transmissible Omicron variant,” says a spokesman for Gravity Diagnostics. Gravity is partnering with the state of Kentucky to offer free, drive-thru testing in Covington, Florence, and Fort Mitchell.

Local police departments have changed traffic patterns to alleviate backups. The Covington testing site has a new entrance on RiverCenter Boulevard. A block of Johnson Street is closed between Third and Fourth streets. Additionally, the new plan involves stacking cars in the former IRS campus lot.

Fort Mitchell has advised motorists to seek alternate routes around Royal Drive where lines for the COVID testing site are very long and causing traffic issues.

Gov. Andy Beshear said Kentucky reported 52,603 new COVID-19 cases last week, the highest weekly total ever. The second highest week for new cases was the week ending Sept. 5, 2021, when 30,680 cases were reported.

“Omicron continues to burn through the commonwealth, growing at levels we have never seen before. Omicron is significantly more contagious than even the Delta variant,” Beshear says.

Robin Feltner, Northern Kentucky Health Department, says the spike is hitting Northern Kentucky hard.

“Regarding cases, yes, this is certainly the highest we’ve ever been in history since the pandemic started. Our numbers are almost quadruple,” Feltner says.

And younger people have been affected since the new variants appeared. “Essentially since midsummer, our highest COVID carriers were the 20- to 29-year-old demographic.”

A spokesman for Gravity Diagnostics says, “We are not sure how long the surge will go on, but we will continue to be here for the community as long as the pandemic is still here and people need our services to stay safe.”

The company thanks local health and police departments for helping make the testing sites possible. “Local police departments have been a great help with directing traffic and finding new ways for patients to get easier access to our testing sites.”

You stay in the car and administer your own nasal swab, and the results are generally processed and reported back the same day.

“Given the surge of tests, we are doing our best to meet the 24-hour turnaround time for our Covington location. But due to the extraordinarily high testing volume, some results are being delayed up to 24 hours beyond stated turnaround times,” the spokesman says.

To find the nearest testing site, click here
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Nancy Daly is a veteran Kentucky and Cincinnati journalist. An "Army brat" who found a home in Kentucky, she is a University of Kentucky graduate. Her hobbies include photography, rewatching "Better Call Saul" and "Succession," and playing the "Alphabet Game" on Zoom with six siblings across the globe.