As the number of coronavirus cases continue to increase in Arizona and across the country, health care facilities and their staffs have to effectively prioritize their time, testing and treatment regarding the infectious disease.
Although many Valley residents want to be tested for COVID-19, not everyone qualifies.
Frank LoVecchio, an emergency room physician at Valleywise Health Medical Center in Phoenix, said that certain criteria must be met.
He explained that the most eligible to receive testing for coronavirus are those who are already very sick with something such as pneumonia, or an individual who already requires use of a respirator.
Patients who’ve traveled to a country where the coronavirus outbreak is happening and are showing flu-like symptoms are also eligible for testing.
“If none of those criteria are met, then we’re not allowed to give the test,” LoVecchio said.
“We have to ration the test; it’s not our choice. We’d love to give the test to everyone who wanted it.”
He said when there’s a patient who qualifies for the test, the hospital contacts the Arizona Department of Health Services to do the testing.
Patients who are tested are then placed in isolation at the hospital until test results come back
“They don’t give us an answer until about 3 to 5 days, which is very, very difficult,” LoVecchio said.
“We have a few patients waiting for the answer, and they are very sick.”
The testing for coronavirus is led by the Arizona State Public Health Laboratory, which has a capacity to test up to 450 people each day.
Commercial testing has also started. Among the private hospitals and labs in Arizona providing testing are Mayo Clinic, TGen, and Sonora Quest Laboratories.
LoVecchio said if you’re feeling flu-like symptoms – like a cough or fever – and can’t get tested for the coronavirus, he recommends staying home and isolating yourself for 12 days.
“And I would tell others that if you have that, I think you should,” he said. “It’s the right thing to do.”
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