Allamakee County offers guidance for those who may want testing for COVID-19

Do not arrive unannounced at healthcare facilities

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) provided additional guidance to health officials across the state concerning testing for COVID-19 infection, emphasizing that any testing for the virus must be done by the person’s health care provider and that those seeking testing must not go unannounced to their doctor’s office or hospital.

“Individuals need to direct requests to their health care providers for testing of COVID-19 infection,” said Mike Myers, Administrator at Veterans Memorial Hospital in Waukon. “Anyone who believes they may need to be tested for COVID-19 should call their health care provider to ask about testing and be prepared to provide details about their symptoms. Do not show up unannounced at a local health facility, as that can spread the virus.”

Myers said that there are real-world impacts to local county and state health care systems from people going directly to a health care facility for COVID-19 testing without calling first. Health care workers who conduct the testing must wear personal protective equipment (including gloves, gowns and face shields), and there are finite supplies of that equipment nationwide, including here in Iowa. That equipment also is needed for other critical medical care beyond the COVID-19 testing.

Health care providers in Iowa can test patients as they deem appropriate for COVID-19 through the State Hygienic Laboratory in Coralville at no cost if those patients meet the testing criteria, which is listed below.

Testing ordered by health care providers in Iowa for COVID-19 also can be conducted through five commercial laboratory companies (LabCorp, Quest Diagnostics, ARUP, Roche and Mayo) for patients who don’t necessarily meet the case definitions. That testing would be conducted according to the commercial lab’s guidelines and there may be a cost involved for the person seeking testing.

Health care providers who test a patient through the State Hygienic Laboratory do not need to call IDPH for approval, and testing samples should be sent directly to the lab in accordance with its guidelines. If a patient tests positive for COVID-19, the health care provider who ordered the test must immediately notify IDPH by calling 800-362-2736 prior to notifying the patient.

“We remind health care providers to ensure they are following appropriate infection-control guidance when collecting specimens, including contact and droplet precautions with eye protection,” Myers said.

CRITERIA FOR COVID-19 TESTING CONDUCTED THROUGH STATE LAB AT NO COST
• Hospitalized patients with fever and respiratory failure and no alternate diagnosis.
• Hospitalized older adults (over 60 years of age) with fever and respiratory symptoms (cough, difficulty breathing) and chronic medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, immunosuppressive medications, chronic lung disease, or chronic kidney disease).
• Anyone (including healthcare providers) who is ill with fever or respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, difficulty breathing) and had household contact with a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19 in the 14 days prior to becoming ill.
• Anyone with a history of international travel to a country with a Level 3 CDC travel health warning (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html) or who has taken an international cruise in the 14 days prior to becoming ill with fever and respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, difficulty breathing) and no alternate diagnosis.
 

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