WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The Wichita State University (WSU) COVID-19 drive-through testing lab had to close sample collections on Wednesday and Thursday due to the number of staff out sick. Community partner specimen drop-off is open.
Usually, you can find cars lined up at the MDL site with people who have been waiting hours to get tested. According to Sedgwick County Commissioner Sarah Lopez, the lab tested over 6,000 samples yesterday.
Although sample collection has been suspended, testing continues to take place inside the lab even though the samples have stopped rolling in.
“Unfortunately, we have experienced a couple of illnesses within the lab, and we are experiencing staffing shortages,” said Austin Nordyke, an employee at the WSU Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory (MDL). “We have had quite a few (people) that have stopped in, needing to know what is going on, and we are just letting them know that we are temporarily suspending collections.”
Nordyke says that in the future, the lab will assess each day as if they have enough staff members to collect the COVID-19 test samples.
Currently, the lab still has enough staff members to test more than 10,000 tests a day and continues to collect samples from over 200 community partners.
“If we could push our business and nonprofit and church partners that are able to collect samples to really try and collect samples as much as they can and turn those into the lab,” said Lopez.
The Wichita Chamber of Commerce (WCC) is one of those partners. They have partnered with around 1,500 other businesses and collect about 35 samples a day.
“It was a pretty easy process to get set up and get going to become a site, which is one of the reasons we felt it was needed and important that we become a site,” said John Rolfe, the president of the WCC. “It’s important that companies and other organizations like the chamber and other businesses can assist as much as they can to help us get back this latest variant.”
The Chamber says that they are able to have even more of their partners at the site. They have also been able to help many businesses continue work throughout the omicron surge.