SHELBYVILLE, Ind. — The best way to know if you have COVID-19 is to get tested. Many of the free testing sites around the state are only taking appointments right now. But a walk-in mobile testing clinic in Shelbyville is attracting people from near and far.
Josh Smith came to the Shelby County Fairgrounds from Columbus, Indiana, to get tested. He's not feeling great. His wife is a nurse at a hospital. He knows the potential dangers of COVID-19.
"I want to keep my family safe," Smith said. "I've got older relatives. I've got some that died from it. So, I definitely want to not be in contact with those people if you're sick. I've got nieces and nephews that I love, so I don't want to get anybody sick."
The Indiana Department of Health brought this mobile clinic to Shelby County to meet the high demand for testing. It's only open four days, Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 8 p.m. They administered about 300 tests on the first day. The line was deep when the clinic first opened Thursday. But by mid-afternoon, there was almost no wait.
The Indiana National Guard provides staffing. People have come from surrounding counties — and even surrounding states — to get tested in Shelby County. People from Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky and Michigan all came to the test site on Wednesday. Sareni Sandhu and her 4-year-old son, Resmat, drove over an hour Thursday to find a location accepting walk-ins. They waited for a PCR test only a few minutes.
"We have one family member sick and it's making five, six people sick with them," Sandhu said.
People exposed or having COVID symptoms have raised the demand for testing to its highest level during the pandemic.
"People went out for the holidays, and they wanted to be with family," said Sandy Hall, Shelby County Emergency Preparedness Coordinator. "It's been a long 22 months, and they want to be with family. So, they just let their guards down and they went out. I think that's the biggest thing. Plus, the omicron is a lot more contagious."
The clinic offers both rapid and PCR tests. But in order to get a rapid test right now, you have to be either 18 or younger, or 50 or older. Everyone else should get their PCR test results delivered electronically in 48 to 72 hours.
Seventeen-year-old Lincoln Baker from Greenfield, Indiana, was exposed to a relative at a New Year's Eve party who tested positive. He's feeling sluggish but hoping for a negative test.
"Freedom, get me back into school, so I can get back in the learning and be there with the class and not staying home," Baker said.
The testing site at the Shelby County Fairgrounds takes walk-ins and appointments, which can be scheduled on the state coronavirus website.