COLUMBUS, Ohio — “Healthcare providers have different criteria, unfortunately, of who they will test,” said Columbus Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts. 

Dr. Roberts says in general, COVID-19 testing is available in central Ohio, but there is a nationwide shortage in reagent — the chemical lab workers use to determine a test result — and Columbus and other big cities around our state are feeling the crunch.

What You Need To Know

  • Lack of materials needed to conduct COVID-19 lab tests has led to a shortage around the country

  • Columbus and its hospital partners are only able to test those who exhibit symptoms, not those who do not

  • Health officials hope testing will be at full capacity sometime next month

“Many of the supplies are being sent to states like Texas and Florida that have higher number of cases and maybe a greater need than Ohio," said Dr. Roberts. "So, that has caused many providers in Columbus and Franklin County to scale back. When we talked to our colleagues in Cleveland, they're experiencing similar issues; Cincinnati, similar issues."

So, Columbus Public Health and its hospital partners will test individuals of all ages who are exhibiting symptoms, but not those who are asymptomatic.

Dr. Roberts says she hopes that will change sometime in the next month, but other challenges remain.

“We're not ready to open that up yet, but we're in a better position today than we were two weeks ago with testing supplies. Some of our testing providers are sending their labs out to private labs, and those labs are experiencing some shortages, as well as increased demands, so that is prolonging the turnaround time,” said Dr. Roberts. 

Ohio COVID-19 cases increased in children and young adults over the last six months.

The Ohio Department of Health reports newborns to those up to 19 years old make up nearly 13 percent of cases, compared to 2 percent in March.

With that in mind, Columbus City Schools announced Thursday, the suspension of athletics and extra curricular activities.

Dr. Roberts applauds the move and says when kids are participating in those kinds of events, they're not able to practice basic prevention.

But if you are showing symptoms, she suggests asking for a PCR test, because it's the most accurate test available. 

“Nothing in life is perfect. Nothing in life is one hundred percent accurate. But we all feel very confident that the PCR test is the best test we have our there, and it’s the most reliable test, but realizing that there are some issues with the test and sometimes it could be wrong,” said Dr. Roberts. 

Dr. Roberts says there's so much about this virus that we do not know, but it's up to us to control the spread.

“We all need to practice our lives with a lot of precautions and a lot of barriers in order to help reduce the spread of this virus in our community,” says Dr. Roberts. 

For more information on COVID-19 testing availability, call Columbus Public Health at 614-645-1519.