Sudbury COVID-19 testing site busy as even people without symptoms getting swabbed
SUDBURY -- COVID-fatigue may appear to be settling in over some parts of Canada, but people in Greater Sudbury seem to be taking it seriously, if the numbers at Health Science North's Assessment Centre are any indication.
Officials at HSN say they've been a seeing a consistent number of people make their way to the Walford Road site to get swabbed. They're currently testing about six to eight people every 10 minutes.
Since the start of the pandemic, they've swabbed 15,500 people at the facility and Tuesday, they tested 239 in the drive-thru, a record for the site.
Officials say the numbers have been fairly consistent over the last few months.
"Certainly we're seeing a lot more people without symptoms come through our drive-thru, and this is partly because of the provincial directive that anyone who wants to visit someone in a long-term care facility needs to have a negative test every two weeks," said Dr. Deborah Smith, the site's lead physician.
Smith, who recently came out of retirement to help establish the site, said they've also been seeing a number of asymptomatic patients who fear they've been exposed.
It's welcome news for health professionals, given a recent spike in Sudbury involving several young people, and concern over things like COVID-fatigue and people not taking safety measures seriously four months into the pandemic.
She said they've been seeing more asymptomatic patients than symptomatic ones and she's hoping it'll be a trend that continues.
"We've been very busy and our numbers have certainly increased exponentially since we started, we're probably conducting 150-200 tests each day," Smith said.
It's more important now that people keep to their bubbles, she added, and continue to social distance and wear masks where appropriate.
When last she spoke to CTV in April, she revealed she hadn't even hugged her adult children because of fears of exposure. It's something now she's been able to rectify.
Her word of warning to those who test negative? Don't take it for granted.
Things could change
"A negative test means you tested negative for COVID at that time and things could change very quickly, they could change within 24 hours," she said.
She said a negative test does not give anyone permission to break the rules.
Stephanie McDonald has been on the front-lines as a nurse at the assessment centre since it opened in March. She's seen it all come through their drive-thru or in their doors. People of all ages, including entire families.
"It's what the community needs - we're well protected with our PPE, we're well-educated, we're well-informed, we do safety huddles every day, we work great as team," McDonald said. "I'm actually quite proud that I get to be involved in this process."
"The community is doing really well trying to keep us safe as a whole, and they're calling us when they need us and they're calling us just to make sure so I think that it's going well."
Smith said anyone who has concerns about a potential exposure should be tested. Swabs will continue at the Walford Road site until further notice, but only by appointment.
If you are concerned about a COVID-19 exposure or want to get tested, find the nearest IOntario assesment centre here.