Getting tested for COVID-19 might be harder than you think

Coronavirus Resources

Coronavirus Resources from the CDC

(WEHT)- How close to your home is COVID-19? More confirmed cases are coming in every day and more people are trying to be tested.

How does that have an impact on what’s going in Evansville? What should you do if you think you might need a test?

Eyewitness News spoke with local leaders in health care about steps people should take if they feel a test is necessary. But coming straight to the doctor’s office is not recommended.
There are procedures in place.

“We don’t know how much this will spread in our community. We presume in our community despite that we have negative tests,” Dr. Brad Scheu says.

When you have a cold or feel sick, during normal circumstances, the advice is to get to the doctor’s office. But when it comes to coronavirus, health care professionals are asking people to wait before they walk in.

“It is very similar to having a flu test done where it’s a nasal swab,” Dr. Scheu explains.

But the process of getting results is much different.

“Although the flu test and the coronavirus test are obtained the same way. The coronavirus test has to be sent out to other laboratories,” he says.

With that said hospitals and the federal government are taking steps to make sure the potential for spread is decreased.

“Today we are also announcing a dramatic expansion of our Medicare Telehealth services. Medicare patients can now visit any doctor by phone or video conference at no additional cost, including with commonly used services like Facetime and Skype,” President Donald Trump says.

Calling your doctor first is one of the steps deaconess hospital has suggested for patients who are worried. So how do you know if you need to be tested?

“The answer is evolving every day and the criteria for that test to be done today is different than yesterday and will probably be changing even tomorrow,” Dr. Scheu says.

But if you have the symptoms; cough, fever, or shortness of breath contacting a medical professional by phone or online is recommended. He says this suggested to make sure the supply of testing materials doesn’t run out.

“At this point, if we were to test every patient that may have a cough or a fever I think there would be a concern that we would run into a limit of the test available. So, that’s part of why the criteria has been so limited,” Dr. Scheu explains.

Scheu says contacting hospitals by phone first helps them protect other patients who might be at the hospital and their staff.

How much will it cost? It depends on your health insurance.

How long does it take for your test results? It depends on what lab they’re sent to.

If the swab is sent to a state lab it could be a day or two. Local labs might be six days.

Starting Wednesday, Deaconess says it plans to start offering drive-thru coronavirus testing for people who have an order for testing. 

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(This story was originally published on March 17, 2020)

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