ANGOLA — Steuben County will not be impacted by an Indiana Department of Health decision to shut down OptumServe Health Services COVID-19 testing sites across the state.
The Indiana Department of Health will close COVID-19 testing sites run by OptumServe Health Services effective June 30 now that a robust community-led testing network is in place, including pharmacies, providers, clinics and local health departments, a news release said.
The Steuben County testing site in Commons Park at the intersection of John and Water streets will remain open until the end of the year.
“We were offered an extension until Dec. 31 and we took that option,” said Alicia Walsh, Steuben County Health Department administrator.
Steuben County’s partnership is with Vantage Point Consulting of Indianapolis. It’s contract with Vantage Point will run another six months, starting July 1.
Walsh said she hopes the extended contract will cover the beginning school year, which could be a busy time for testing.
“We hope to get through the start of the new school year,” Walsh said.
The number of people who get tested in Steuben County varies greatly on any given day. So far this month, there have been testing days in the single digits and others in the high double digits.
OptumHealth operated a clinic in spring 2020 in Angola, at the National Guard Armory, but that ended up being moved due to a lack of certain amenities.
Meanwhile, Optum’s partnership with the state, which is concluding after 14 months, was first announced by Gov. Eric J. Holcomb in April 2020 to bring large-scale testing to Hoosiers and remove barriers to testing by providing free and nearby access at a time when community resources were limited. Since May 6, 2020, more than 541,000 free COVID-19 tests have been provided at an OptumServe site.
“We are grateful to OptumServe for its work to ensure that Hoosiers had COVID testing available to them while we worked to build more local capacity,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box. “Without their work, many Hoosiers who were exposed to COVID or showing symptoms might never have known their status. I have no doubt that having this resource available helped reduce the spread of COVID in our state.”
At its peak, OptumServe provided testing in 53 counties. Currently, 30 counties have an OptumServe testing site. Throughout 2020 and early 2021, more community-based providers, clinics and pharmacies have been able to offer COVID-19 testing, reducing the need for Optum sites. In addition, local health departments received state grants in the fall of 2020 to open nearly 100 testing sites.
Box said demand for testing has decreased across the state and noted that free testing will remain available at more than 250 sites after the Optum sites close. You can find a COVID-19 testing site near you by visiting coronavirus.in.gov.
“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.”