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INDIANAPOLIS — The recent surge of COVID cases in Indianapolis because of the omicron variant has health experts in Marion County looking to ramp up efforts to get people tested and even vaccinated.

“We are going to open up a new site for testing some time next week,” said Marion County health director Dr. Virginia Caine. “We are looking at another location where we do the drive-thrus, but we will reconsider doing testing downtown.”

On Monday, the county opened a pop-up testing site as kind of a trial run of what they would like to implement on a more permanent basis in the coming week. It certainly was made useful with the thousands of fans in Indianapolis for the College Football Playoff National Championship.

But, for a five-hour stretch that the testing site was open, they only tested 41 people and gave out 19 COVID shots.

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona stopped by the testing site and reiterated the Biden administration’s plea for people to take the pandemic seriously and also touted what he said was the White House’s success in helping keep kids as safe as possible at school.

“We have better tools now to keep our kids safe,” Cardona said. “We reopened schools before we had the vaccines and we were able to do it safely. Follow common-sense mitigation strategies. When indoors wear masks.”

On that note, Dr. Caine is stopping short of recommending a mask mandate for the county again, something that has not been in effect since late 2020. She says several factors go into making that kind of decision.

“We try to look at the positivity rate. We try to look at our hospital capacity,” Caine said. “We try to look also at the number of people that’s been vaccinated in our community.”

More than 55-percent of Indy and Marion County residents are fully vaccinated, she says. On Jan. 3 there were over 680 new COVID cases, that number was up to over 2,700 two days later.