On Thursday, the Indiana Department of Health (ISDH) announced they would be closing COVID-19 testing sites run by OptumServe Health Services effective June 30.

With the change, Parkview Wabash Hospital president Marilyn J. Custer-Mitchell said for free testing, Wabash County residents will have to visit a state-run testing site.

Custer-Mitchell said Huntington, Miami and Kosciusko counties all have free testing sites still open.

“Also, many physicians’ offices are now doing Rapid Testing, as is the Parkview Health Walk-In Clinic,” said Custer-Mitchell. “These sites are not free sites, but people can call the various offices to see if they are providing testing.”

Parkview Health public relations manager Tami Brigle said the COVID-19 diagnostic testing remains available at the Parkview FirstCare Walk-In Clinic in Wabash, but that the ISDH website still lists it as being at the Cass Street location. Brigle said the site was moved to 8 John Kissinger Drive at the Parkview Wabash medical office building earlier this year.

“Patients will need to be seen by a provider to determine if testing is appropriate,” said Brigle. “Diagnostic testing is most appropriate for people with active COVID-19 symptoms, including but not limited to cough, fever and shortness of breath.”

According to the ISDH, the decision to close the OptumServe was made “now that a robust community-led testing network is in place, including pharmacies, providers, clinics and local health departments.”

“The partnership, which is concluding after 14 months, was 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,” stated the ISDH.

Since May 6, 2020, more than 541,000 free COVID-19 tests have been provided at an OptumServe site, according to the ISDH.

“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, M.D., FACOG. “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.

“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.”

For more information, visit www.coronavirus.in.gov.

Rob Burgess, Wabash Plain Dealer editor, may be reached by email at rburgess@wabashplaindealer.com.