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Indiana To Restrict Access To COVID-19 Rapid Tests At State, County Clinics

GARY, Ind. (CBS) -- Like Chicago, Indiana is experiencing a shortage of rapid COVID-19 tests, to the point where the state is putting new restrictions in place for who can get one.

Beginning Tuesday, rapid tests at state and local health department testing sites will only be available to individuals aged 18 and younger and symptomatic individuals aged 50 and older.

Officials said the decision is designed to help ensure that students can stay in school and that Hoosiers who are most likely to need a monoclonal antibodies are identified within the prescribed window in which they can be administered.

As CBS 2' Steven Graves reported, signs announcing that state-provided rapid tests are hard to come by are the first thing to greet those who walk into the COVID-19 testing site at Holy Angels Cathedral in Gary. The signs say if you took a rapid test within 14 days, you have to opt for a PCR test.

The warning was in place even before Indiana announced the new rules.

"I'm a pediatrician, and I'm seeing a great amount of kids coming in who we're diagnosing with COVID," said Gary Health Commissioner Dr. Roland Walker.

Walker hopes the state order could help, as they get about 300 rapid tests a day at the Holy Angels Cathedral site.

"I can tell you Gary is averaging about 100 cases a day, which is a lot for a city this size," he said.

Walker said the city will comply with new changes since they get tests from the state.

Indiana said as of late Tuesday, its rapid test supply has decreased significantly from 50,000 a week to 11,000.

"I think they're trying to do the best they can with a rough situation," said Dr. Micah Pollak.

Pollak, who studies Indiana's COVID numbers, fears cases are even worse - with testing data lagging as more people take at-home antigen tests.

"It could be in the order of we're missing 10 infections for every one that we find on tests just because testing is so reduced, and those antigen tests are not being counted in the state's data," Pollak said.

Dr. Walker is optimistic about the changes, but warns people to continue to seek out credible testing sites.

"Testing and immunizations are going to be what get us out of this situation," Walker said.

Gary is actually opening up a drive-up site at St. Timothy Community Church from noon until 8 p.m. daily. Anyone is encouraged to come and PCR test, which take longer for results.

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