Covid-19 testing: Questions & answers
April 16, 2020
Testing people for covid-19 is one of the tools often mentioned to control the spread of the illness. On Tuesday, I posed some questions to Chris Bischoff, director of Wahkiakum County Health and Human Services, about testing effort in the county.
Here is is response:
Initial comment: One general thought as the state starts looking to ease restrictions, testing needs to be widely available to keep this from happening again and seeing another shutdown. The state should also make available antibody testing widely as well.
Q. Who is being tested and by whom?
Answer: We would still like people to work with their primary care provider first to get tested. We do have a limited supply of test kits that we can test people who aren't being tested by their primary care provider. We have a Screening Number, 360-849-4041, where people who can't get tested by their primary care provider can answer some questions and if they qualify, we will test them. The number is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Q. Do providers have adequate testing supplies? If not, what are the hurdles you face?
Answer: We have enough for now for people who have symptoms; we have nowhere near enough supplies or ability to test anyone who wants to be tested. I would love to have drive through testing once a week or more, but there is no mechanism for paying the testing costs nor do we have that many testing kits.
Q. How long does it take to have results back from a test?
Answer: Most labs are saying five days, but we are seeing the results in usually less than 3.
Q. How many people have been tested?
Answer: We don't know for sure. There is no requirement for labs or providers to notify us of tests in process or negative tests. The only requirement is to notify us of a positive. I do get some informal notifications of testing going on. Best guess is that less than 50 Wahkiakum County residents have been tested. This is concerning as the numbers in Clark and Cowlitz continue to grow. I think the best option going forward is for the state to push out widespread drive through testing; even if it were regionally available in Longview, I think we would have a better handle on the situation.