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Columbus Public Health confident city has enough COVID-19 tests to meet demand

Dr. Mysheika Roberts says if necessary, they can work with Franklin County Public Health and local hospital systems to increase capacity if needed.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The city’s top doctor says she is confident Columbus Public Health has enough tests to meet demand.

Dr. Mysheika Roberts says she learned about the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 on Wednesday and was briefed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention over the weekend.

“What we know is this is a variant of concern,” said Roberts. “What's most concerning is the mutations that are seen in this variant, are many, and they're on the spike protein, which we know is critical to how our vaccine works."

What Roberts does know is CPH is ready to start testing for it and says our current testing systems should be able to identify a COVID-19 positive test, even with the new variant.

"From everything we know thus far, the answer is yes, the at-home test kits will still detect the new variant. But again, the at-home test kits will not allow us to do the sequencing. So we won't be able to know whether you have Omicron or if you have Delta at this point in time. In the U.S., Delta is the predominant strain, representing 99% of all cases in the United States, and probably about 100% of cases here in Ohio."

At-home test kits are available for free at all 23 branches of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

More than100,000 at-home kits have been given out since the beginning of the year, according to a library spokesperson. Last week, 13,000 were distributed setting a weekly record.

“I am confident based on the demand that we're seeing here for people who want to get tested, that we are easily able to meet that with our testing resources here on our community,” said Roberts. “It's something we follow on a regular basis. And if we feel like we need more capacity, I am confident that working with our hospital partners and other partners here in Franklin County, that we will be able to step up and meet that demand if necessary.”

If you are unable to travel to a pharmacy or to a library to receive a free COVID-19 test, call the Columbus Public Health hotline at 614-645-1519.

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