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Testing demand skyrockets in Cass County as the omicron variant takes hold

The only free testing site in Cass County looked swamped when a WDAY News crew went there on Tuesday, Jan. 11.

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The south Fargo testing site appears to be busy Tuesday, Jan. 11.
WDAY News

FARGO — Making it clear at City Hall on Monday, Jan. 10, Fargo Cass Public Health director Desi Fleming said tests are in high demand.

"Our testing site was never meant to grow to what it has today, but yesterday, we did over 4,000 tests," she said on Tuesday.

The only free testing in Cass County looked swamped when a WDAY News crew went there on Tuesday. Many masked visitors were seen going in and out.

Staff said many of Monday's testers were from Moorhead. On Tuesday, a sign was on the front door that informed visitors that they do not test students, staff or faculty from Minnesota schools and universities.

They are urging Minnesotans to use the Vault Health testing sites in their state.

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Fleming is also asking people who test every day to visit less frequently.

"That also is a strain on our systems, so if people could just be very aware of what's appropriate or what's too much," she explained.

She is warning the community that supplies could run thin if they keep testing at this pace with no new federal test shipments.

"Yes, we could run into a shortage of the antigens," Fleming said.

The other health networks in the area are also providing COVID-19 tests, but they are typically not free.

With the omicron variant escalating the number of COVID-19 cases in our area; Cass County has more than 1,500 active cases.

Fleming said rising omicron infections will put a strain on healthcare systems over the next three weeks, calling it a time for the unvaccinated and immunocompromised to lay low. She also said a lot of the recent positive tests are for people in their 20s and 30s.

In October 2020, Gov. Doug Burgum Raised Cass County's risk level to high, when its 14-day rolling average was at about 8%. On Tuesday, it was nearly double that amount at 15.7%.

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