Health Officer Dr. Maria Stamp said the Health Department is waiting on
State guidance for running its own COVID-19 testing in her report to the
County Health Board Tuesday night.
is available through the State’s contract with Optum, but that contract
expires at the end of this month, Stamp said.
Stamp said the
Optum testing site, which moved from the Valparaiso National Guard Armory to
an old Northshore Health clinic building in Portage recently, doubled their
testing capacity a couple weeks ago, so they’ve been able to offer 254 tests
Stamp said she was
tested at the Optum site last week. “I went on Friday morning at 8:05. I was
there for less than 10 minutes, and in that time, I think 10 people came
behind me. I received my negative test result on Sunday morning, exactly 48
According to Stamp,
registering for a test was easy too. “The registration is probably a 10-page
click through, and that is the most onerous part of it,” she said. “So we’re
going to have pretty big shoes to fill, and hopefully in the next few weeks
the State will start giving us some information about how we’re going to be
trained and how we’re going to provide that.”
northwest Indiana counties got together to discuss the costs of running
their own testing and were able to procure additional State funding at up to
$100,000 per site. Stamp said Porter County would be allowed two sites, and
those sites would be expected to be open for at least 35 hours a week with
evening hours twice a week and Saturday hours offered. These sites are
planned to operate at least from September 2020 through June 2021 and would
be staffed by the County, Stamp said, likely from a combination of existing
employees and new hires.
Connie Rudd, the
department’s director of nursing, is working on ways to staff the new sites
and has talked to some employees at the Optum site who’ve expressed interest
in staying on, Stamp said. She added that capturing some of the Optum
employees would be a plus because they’re already familiar with the process.
Stamp said the
department is still looking for locations. They’ve been offered the Expo
Center, but Stamp said she’s a bit hesitant because Expo would still be
hosting events, which could pose schedule conflicts and require the testing
equipment be frequently moved. Stamp hopes to have one site in Portage and
one in Valparaiso, and to partner with Health Linc to use a mobile site that
can visit other areas.
Stamp said she’s
happy to see more people wearing masks since the Governor’s mandate went
into effect, and, on a positive note, Porter County’s positive cases among
those under 30 are beginning to go down after a spike that started after
fourth of July celebrations.
“After the fourth,
there were a lot of additional social events that happened, and our numbers
of positive cases climbed,” she said. “We did have some outbreaks associated
with some social events. If any of you are on social media, I’m sure you
heard of them.”
“Most of them were
very good about working with us in terms of contact tracers,” Stamp said,
including one mother who made an excel spreadsheet of her son’s contacts.
“It was amazing. We wanted to hire her.”
rates are not a perfect way of understanding what’s safe, Stamp is hoping to
offer the public a better system of understanding positivity rates and
threat level soon using a graded system like State Health Commissioner Dr.
Kristina Box has recommended for schools.