Some New Mexico COVID-19 testing sites report drop in demand

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – There are still plenty of places to get a COVID-19 test in New Mexico, but some of those testing sites in Albuquerque are seeing the demand drop now. One of those providers is shutting down its testing site altogether.

Lovelace Medical Center announced Friday, April 2 will be the last day of its screening site. It will run from 8-10 a.m. on Friday.

“We’re not seeing the volume anymore, which is a good thing,” said Lovelace Associate Administrator Nick Shirilla. He said they went from 600-700 cars a day at their peak a year ago to maybe 10 a day over the last couple of months. He also said he has noticed a change in why people are showing up for testing.

“A lot of it was work requirements,” Shirilla said. “We weren’t seeing symptomatic patients coming through very often anymore.”

Presbyterian Healthcare Services has also noticed a drop in demand although not quite as extreme. Their testing site, which is now on San Mateo and McLeod, went from 276 daily tests in February to 235 in March compared with more than 500 at its peak. “Because more people are vaccinated, we expect to be able to see fewer people testing but, nevertheless, we still encourage New Mexicans to get tested,” said David Morgan, the media & social media manager with the New Mexico Department of Health.

Courtesy of NMDOH

The graph above shows what testing trends look like statewide. The state peaked at a 7-day rolling average of more than 16,000 tests a day in February compared with about half that more recently. Even with the recent decline, though, it is still quite a bit.

“Any amount of testing is good testing in my mind,” said Curative Director of Operations Blake Lackey. Curative does the mouth swab tests at Balloon Fiesta Park and also offers testing in other states, like California, Colorado, and Illinois. “New Mexico is actually one of our top leading states in testing day to day,” Lackey said.

Of course, testing right now is still a very important factor in easing up restrictions in New Mexico counties. Test positivity rates have to be low in order for more businesses to open and stay open.

Two weeks ago, the state told KRQE News 13 that it is taking a closer look at whether test positivity rates should continue to be a factor in setting restrictions. They did not have an update Thursday on if that could be changing any time soon.

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