What are the steps you need to take if you think you have coronavirus?
Banner Health, Arizona’s largest health system, on Monday launched drive-thru COVID-19 testing for prescreened patients at four sites, three in Phoenix and one in Tucson.
Patients do not need a doctor’s order, but they will need to speak by phone with a Banner clinician before being scheduled for a testing appointment.
That’s why Phoenix-based nonprofit Banner Health isn’t publicly sharing the addresses of the sites: Patients need to call ahead. People who arrive at a testing site without an appointment won’t be tested, officials said.
The addition of the Banner sites is expected to broaden testing in Arizona. Many Arizonans have complained about having COVID-19 symptoms but say they’ve been unable to get a test. The availability of testing has been an obstacle for some clinicians, too.
Arizona as of Monday had 234 reported presumptive positive and confirmed cases of the disease, which is caused by the new coronavirus. The state also has had two known COVID-19-related deaths.
But the number of cases in Arizona could be much higher than the reported tally because of limited testing. Arizona’s first case of COVID-19 was confirmed Jan. 26. Arizona’s state lab became one of the first in the country to begin doing its own testing on March 2.
Other entities are providing testing services as well.
In early March, Phoenix-based Sonora Quest Laboratories began doing testing in Arizona, as did North Carolina-based LabCorp.
The Mayo Clinic in Arizona last week began doing testing for Mayo patients with a doctor’s order at both its Phoenix and Scottsdale campuses. Coconino County in northern Arizona is operating two testing sites in conjunction with the Phoenix-bases Translational Genomics Research Institute.
Though testing is not a panacea to the COVID-19 pandemic, it can give public health officials a better idea of where hot spots are located and how to best respond, and it can give individuals incentive to self-isolate and practice social distancing.
CORONAVIRUS TESTING: COVID-19 testing is ramping up in Arizona. Here’s what we know
No symptoms = No test
The Banner testing began with a “soft launch” in Tucson last week, but the testing sites officially opened Monday. The nasal swab tests will be processed by Sonora Quest Laboratories, with a turnaround time of three to five days to get results.
The general vicinity of the sites in Phoenix are the northwest Valley, the southeast Valley and one in Mesa. Several more are slated to open at a later date, Banner officials said. They could not give an estimate of how many people per day they will be able to test.
“It will depend on our supply of test kits,” company spokeswoman Becky Armendariz wrote in a text message. “We’ve been working with state and federal agencies to secure kits, and they have been very helpful and supportive. We will ramp up and open additional sites as more kits are made available to us.”
The phone number to call is 844-549-1851 to speak with a clinical team member to determine if testing is appropriate. The line will be staffed from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday.
In its news release about the sites, Banner says that if people meet CDC testing criteria, they will be scheduled for an appointment at one of Banner’s new drive-thru sites.
Banner officials are not sharing the precise criteria patients will need to have before getting approved for a test. Armendariz said she could not provide more specifics, other than to say people who get tested must have symptoms.
The clinician will then evaluate other criteria that might indicate the “likelihood of having COVID-19,” Armendariz wrote.
The latest CDC interim guidance on testing is somewhat open-ended, calling for clinicians to use their judgment to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and whether the patient should be tested.
COVID-19 can manifest with a range of symptoms, but the hallmarks are a fever, cough and shortness of breath. In more serious cases, the disease causes pneumonia. About 80% of cases have mild or no symptoms, the latest evidence shows.
The CDC guidance does recommend prioritizing certain individuals — hospitalized patients with symptoms who don’t have another respiratory illness, and “older adults” and others at risk for poor outcomes. The CDC does not define the age of an older adult.
The CDC also recommends prioritizing people, including health care workers, who within 14 days of symptom onset had close contact with a suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient, or who have a history of travel from an affected geographic area within 14 days of their symptom onset.
What happens during the COVID-19 test
During patients’ drive-through appointment, they will be asked to remain inside their vehicle, Banner officials said, and they will receive paperwork to complete, including a confirmation stating they…
Source Website Banner Health launches drive-through COVID-19 testing at 4 sites in Arizona