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COVID-19 – Why is testing limited & what are the processes to test?

Novel Corona Virus (COVID-19), has entered our world and turned it upside down. Our day to day routines have been shaken to the core by a tiny little virus that began in a small market in Wuhan, China.  Suddenly, many of our nations’ people are out of work, our kids are at home, and there is not toilet paper, eggs, or Clorox wipes to be found.  It’s a nerve- racking time for everyone.

One of the most pressing questions in the Star Valley community, and in fact nationally, is about why the testing is limited & slow to process? Why does Star Valley Health not test everyone? Put very simply, it is basic economics, supply does not meet demand right now.  Everyone with a symptom wants to be tested, but resources are limited nationwide.  Resources include testing supplies and laboratory capacity – labs to process the tests do not currently meet the demands.

How is it, that here in the land of plenty, we do not have the means to perform this test on the masses?  At the beginning of this pandemic, testing was (and currently remains) delayed due to the insufficient number of tests and labs available to perform the testing.  Because this is a new or novel strain of coronavirus, one which the WHO and the CDC does not know about, an astounding number of things have to happen before a test kit is available.  As tests become more readily available and labs ramp up to perform more work, the number of tests completed will increase and the time in which results are returned will decrease. Until the supply can meet the demand and the scales start to balance themselves, we must use our resources carefully.

The CDC has provided guidance for who should be tested, but decisions about testing are at the discretion of state and local health departments and/or individual clinicians.

At Star Valley Health, our testing process follows the CDC Guidelines:

  • All patients are asked to CALL the LIVE SUPPORT HOTLINE: 885-5008
  • Patients are assessed for symptoms and severity
  • Patients are screened to eliminate other illnesses, such as influenza A or B, strep, other coronaviruses, colds, etc.

If these illnesses are ruled out, then decisions are made based on CDC guidelines:

  • Do symptoms match COVID-19?
  • How severe are the symptoms?
  • Do you (or others that you provide care for) have other chronic or underlying conditions?
  • What age range are you?
  • Did you have contact with travelers or with positive COVID-19 individuals?

Those who are needing hospitalization are likely to be tested. Those who are experiencing milder symptoms would be recommended to self-care and quarantine at home, with a stipulation to return to the hospital if you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19.

Emergency warning signs include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

Due to the shortage in testing kits, not everyone will be tested for COVID-19. If you are considering seeking treatment, please know:

  • Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home
  • There is no treatment specifically approved for this virus at this time

Finally, it is important for the community to know that at this time most hospitals don’t have the capabilities to test for COVID-19 on site.  Instead, upon being tested for multiple respiratory illnesses with a negative test results AND meeting the CDC criteria, the test are sent to the state or commercial labs.  Results are returned to your provider and you will be contacted with information on next steps based on your personal situation.

 

Star Valley Health – Caring for You Through the Crisis!