Parents struggle to find COVID tests needed for kids sent home sick to return to school


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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — On one day in late September, nearly 11,000 coronavirus tests were administered. That’s the highest number since May. The demand for tests is being felt by local parents of students who were sent home sick from school.

Children with symptoms of almost anything are sent home, and are not allowed to return without proof of a negative coronavirus test. Jeanine Werth, a mother of two from Baldwinsville, was home from work Wednesday because her son was home from school.

She emailed NewsChannel 9’s Your Stories team after struggling to find available testing two weeks in a row.

“Instead of getting a test and getting home to rest, which kids should do” she explained in an interview, “we spent two-to-seven hours look for a test.”

Werth tried her child’s doctor, pharmacies and urgent cares.

“All of the WellNow (urgent cares) in the area were completely booked,” she said, “and the doctor’s office was booked. There’s very few other places to go.”

WellNow has converted seven of its 16 local urgent cares into testing centers, but for asymptomatic people only.

“We weren’t even allowed in the door,” Werth said. “They were booked and no longer accepting new patients.”

Onondaga County offers a testing clinic for students and teachers sent home from school sick, but are no longer showing symptoms. Upstate Hospital offers tests by appointment at its Water Street location, but takes walk-ins at its Community General campus Monday through Thursday. The Syracuse Community Health Center offers walk-in testing Monday through Friday.

A spokesperson for Wegmans tells NewsChannel 9 its pharmacies are doing COVID-19 vaccines and not offering testing. Kinney Drugs and Walgreens offer testing locally. A check of CVS’s website did not show recent openings for its Manlius pharmacy.

People can search for other testing options on the State Department of Health website.

Neither county governments or New York State have publicized plans to expand testing or open mass testing sites like how the Regional Market and NBT Bank Stadium were used last year.

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