Indiana health officials closing state’s virus testing sites

Midwest

A healthcare professional, right, takes a sample from a patient at a United Memorial Medical Center COVID-19 testing site Wednesday, June 24, 2020, in Houston. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday that the state is facing a “massive outbreak” in the coronavirus pandemic and that some new local restrictions may be needed to protect hospital space for new patients. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Department of Health will close state-sponsored coronavirus testing program at the end of the month, delegating future tests to pharmacies, community clinics and local health departments, officials announced Thursday.

The COVID-19 testing sites run by state contractor OptumServe Health Services will end June 30. An increase in locally sourced COVID-19 testing has reduced the need for the Optum sites, health department officials said. Local health departments also received state grants last fall to open nearly 100 testing sites.

State health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box added that demand for testing has decreased across the state and noted that free testing will remain available at more than 250 sites after the Optum locations close.

“While our case counts have fallen significantly, we must continue to take steps to reduce the spread of disease,” Box said. “We remain committed to ensuring that any Hoosier who wants or needs to be tested can receive that testing in a location that’s convenient.”

The 14-month partnership with OptumServe, a division of insurance giant UnitedHealth Group, was announced by Gov. Eric Holcomb in April 2020 to bring large-scale coronavirus testing to Hoosiers.

More than 541,000 free COVID-19 tests have been provided at the sites since then, the health department said. At its peak, OptumServe provided testing in 53 counties. Currently, 30 counties still have an operating testing site.

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