COVID Testing Q&A with Noble County Health Commissioner Shawn Ray
By: Shawn Ray, RS, MPH
Noble County Health Department
As of April 3, 2020, the information provided in this article is the most current from the Ohio Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control. Please understand, since this is a novel (new) virus, scientists are gaining new knowledge almost daily, therefore recommendations are constantly changing. The Noble County Health Department is making every effort to keep the community informed of COVID19 facts and changes in as timely a manner as possible. For the most current information check out the Ohio Department of Health’s website coronavirus.ohio.gov.
- Where in Noble County is testing being done?
- Medical providers in Noble County can order a COVID19 test, if a patient meets the criteria to be tested. However, the actual test may be collected at an outpatient site such as Southeastern Ohio Regional Medical Center or Marietta Memorial Hospital. It is important to remember that there has to be a physician’s order stating that you are to be tested; you cannot just show up to a testing facility and expect to get tested.
- Who should be tested?
- Anybody who has symptoms and the physician agrees can and should be tested. The Ohio Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set the following priority listings of who should get tested. PRIORITY 1: hospitalized patients and symptomatic healthcare workers, PRIORITY 2: Patient’s in long-term care facilities with symptoms, First responders with symptoms, Patients 65 years of age and older with symptoms, and patients with underlying conditions with symptoms. It is the clinical judgement of your physician to order a test.
- How would someone go about getting a test?
- Pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms which can include a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early. Call your doctor immediately (before seeking care) if you feel like you are developing these symptoms. Do not just show up at the physician’s office or the hospital. There are protocols in place for when you arrive for your appointment to help keep everyone safe.
- How long does it take to get results?
- After the physician has ordered a test and the specimen has been collected, the turnaround time varies from lab to lab on when you will receive results. The Ohio Department of Health lab turnaround time with results is about 24 hours. If a specimen is sent to another hospital that has the capability for testing, the turnaround time is about 48 hours. Results are taking between 7-10 days for specimens that are sent to a Private lab, like Quest or LabCorp.
- Will the Health Department release information regarding who has been tested and the outcome?
- No. The health department will not release identifying information about who has been tested and what their outcome is. We commit to following HIPAA. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a national standard that protects sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge. We already know that there has been community spread of the virus in our state. It is always important to practice good hygiene, wash your hands, cover your coughs and sneezes, but most importantly, stay home. The Stay at Home Order has been extended through May 1. By practicing good hygiene and following the order we can all help flatten the curve.
Thanks for doing your part to keep everyone in Noble County safe and healthy!