Demand for COVID tests snarls traffic, exhausts supply at UNLV site

By: - January 3, 2022 3:06 pm

A drive-through COVID-19 testing site in Southern Nevada in July 2020. (Photo: Daniel Clark)

Southern Nevadans in search of a COVID-19 test waited hours in a traffic jam before some were turned away Sunday night from a drive-thru UNLV site that closed two and half hours early.

“Last night the site did 1,750 tests in its first 2.5 hours of operation and closed at 8 p.m. upon hitting its capacity for the evening,” Clark County spokeswoman Stacey Welling said in a statement to the Current.

The UNLV testing site is the only community testing available on Sundays in Southern Nevada. It was originally scheduled to operate from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Its “normal capacity” for a Sunday night is 500 tests.

“Tests are available for free at the site on a first-come, first-served basis,” Welling said, adding the turnaround time for results is between 48 and 72 hours. “There has been high demand at the drive-thru site at UNLV since last weekend.”

The Southern Nevada Health District reports 16,484 new cases of COVID in the last seven days, not including those diagnosed via self-administered rapid antigen tests.

The seven-day average of cases per day in Clark County peaked for the month on Dec. 30 at 2,239 – well above the daily average of 1,717 the same day a year ago. Deaths, however, have not spiked.

Nevada is just shy of reaching half a million COVID infections since March 2020, according to the state’s COVID tracker. The state reports a seven-day average of 1,945 new cases per day as of Jan. 2.

“Today, we are seeing an alarming number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations reported after the end of year holidays,” Gov. Steve Sisolak said in a statement. “My team is continuing to analyze the numbers and we are working with health districts and other partners to provide resources to combat the surge we are facing.”

The county is urging individuals to seek out community testing sites listed at snhd.info/covid-testing, and on the Nevada Response website at nvhealthresponse.nv.gov/find-covid-19-testing-in-nevada/.

“Many of these sites accept walk-ins while others require appointments that can be scheduled on their websites,” she said.

Welling did not know of any immediate efforts to augment options for those in search of a community test site on Sundays.

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Dana Gentry
Dana Gentry

Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana has four adult children, two grandsons, three dogs, three cats and a cockatoo named Casper.