Decrease in COVID-19 testing as vaccinations continue

Local health districts dial back on community testing events

Decrease in Covid-19 testing as vaccinations continue

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - The feeling of “normal” is finally starting to return with eased restrictions coming to Virginia, but health leaders are asking people fully vaccinated to remain vigilant.

After more than a year of pandemic life, some people are not ready to let their guards down.

“In my brain, I’m feeling a little uncomfortable with it,” said Mark Myers.

Myers, a native Richmonder, now living on the west coast, is still processing the end of the mask mandate and a return to normal.

On Thursday, the CDC relaxed guidance on mask-wearing for people fully vaccinated.

Even a recent plane trip had Myers uncomfortable.

“I was crammed in there like sardines, like nothing was wrong,” he said.

However, one relief for Myers – he is fully vaccinated in the fight against COVID-19.

“Being vaccinated gives you a lot more freedoms,” said Cat Long, spokeswoman for the Henrico County Health District. “You don’t have to participate in many of the safety measures that you do if you’re not vaccinated.”

One of those measures - testing.

“Fully vaccinated people don’t have to go through the hassle of getting tested and stay home for two weeks,” Long said.

Local health districts have seen a drop in people coming to testing events.

It prompted the Chesterfield Health District to discontinue community testing altogether at the end of February. Richmond & Henrico Health District dropped its events to one day a week at the Eastern Henrico Health Department.

“Of course, there’s lots of other testing opportunities in the community at pharmacies and providers,” Long said. “Part of it is that it’s more available in other places and part of it has been a reduce in demand.”

The reduction in demand a result of more people getting vaccinated, which certainly helped Virginia’s positivity rate fall to 3.5% Friday.

“It is really hopeful to know we’re not in this in this space of scarcity anymore,” Long said.

However, now some question where COVID testing goes from here.

“If something struck me like I felt like I was getting something, I would shut it down; I wouldn’t be seeing my parents anymore, I’d be getting tested for sure,” Myers said.

“Regardless of their vaccination status, we encourage them to seek testing if they’re feeling symptoms that could possibly be COVID-19,” Long added.

Health leaders said the risk of contracting COVID-19 after you are fully vaccinated is low, but it can happen.

Eventually, the community testing events will discontinue, but Long said community pharmacies and medical providers will continue to administer the COVID-19 tests.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

Want NBC12’s top stories in your inbox each morning? Subscribe here.