COVID-19 call centers and testing sites are closing across the United States as more Americans look to move on from the pandemic and with the emergency declaration set to end in May.
In Rockland County, New York — just north of New York City — the call center closed Tuesday after three years in operation.
The center was launched in early March 2020 after the county's health department became inundated with telephone calls from people asking questions about the virus. According to a press release, the center received 19,163 calls during its operation and provided residents and businesses with information about COVID-19 guidance, testing sites, testing results and how to schedule vaccination appointments.
"I commend our staff for their tireless efforts to assist the community during this global pandemic," said county health commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel in a statement. "As the number of COVID-19-related calls continues to decrease, the health department is able to reallocate personnel to other critical health work."
In nearby Massachusetts, the state's department of public health announced Monday it is shutting down its remaining free PCR testing sites, which were known as "Stop the Spread" sites, at the end of March.
UMass Memorial Health, which runs one of the sites in Worcester — located in central Massachusetts — cited "less demand for COVID-19 testing" as the reason behind the health department's decision.
Drive-thru testing sites are also coming to an end. Carilion Clinic, a health system based in Roanoke, Virginia, closed its drive-thru testing sites on Wednesday.
According to a press release, the sites completed more than 340,000 tests over the course of three years and saw staff members often working from 5 a.m. until 11 p.m.
Kim Roe, vice president of family and community medicine, said testing personnel "truly worked tirelessly these past three years; their work was invaluable in keeping our workplace and communities safe."
"A closure is an odd thing to celebrate, but this is a moment to recognize all that was accomplished as we transition into the endemic stage of this virus," her statement continued.
It comes as several COVID data trackers also shut down, including Johns Hopkins University's Coronavirus Resource Center, one of the first to launch in early 2020 and a vital source that filled in information gaps.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also shut down its data website last month but has kept the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's dashboard running.
According to the CDC, COVID-19 cases have been declining for several weeks. During the week of Feb. 22 — the latest date for which data is available — a total of 236,131 cases were recorded in the U.S., a 48.2% decline from the 455,866 cases recorded the week of Jan. 11.
Hospitalizations and deaths, both of which are traditionally lagging indicators, have also been trending downward. Over the same period, weekly deaths have fallen from 4,448 to 2,407, according to CDC data.
The data also shows the seven-day average of hospitalizations declined from 39,837 on Jan. 11 to 22,766 on Feb. 22.
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What the end of COVID call centers and testing sites means for the US – KABC-TV