PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island is ramping up coronavirus testing for people with and without symptoms.
Gov. Gina Raimondo has asked that people get tested regularly to help pinpoint and isolate where the virus is spreading. The state is now roughly halfway through its three-week effort to double the testing capacity.
Starting Wednesday, anyone who wants to get tested can do so by signing up for an appointment through the state’s portal. Previously, people who didn’t have COVID-19 symptoms had to be of a certain age group or work in a certain industry to get tested.
“We want people to be able to get tested within 24 hours of developing symptoms and we want everyone to have easy access to asymptomatic testing,” R.I. Department of Health spokesperson Joseph Wendelken said.
Wendelken told 12 News the state hopes to get the total number of tests administered every day “closer to 26,000, 27,000, 28,000.”
“A lot of the private entities that are doing testing are also going to be building out, so that number will continue to increase,” he added.
To increase the testing capacity and address reports of lengthy wait times and a lack of time slots at some locations, Raimondo announced plans to add more testing sites, including one for asymptomatic patients at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in downtown Providence.
Another complaint from Rhode Islanders has been a relatively long turnaround time for results, so the state is starting to deploy BinaxNOW test kits which produce results in 15 minutes. The goal is to have 5,000 of those tests available per day.
These rapid tests will be used especially in areas with high positivity rates like Central Falls. Starting next week, the use will be expanded to health care workers, first responders, and the school community.
The state hopes to eventually make those tests available to businesses, as well.
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