MESA COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH RAMPS UP COVID-19 TESTING; LOOKS TO COLLECT 1,500 SAMPLES BY THE END OF MAY
Mesa County Public Health remains committed to ensuring illness due to COVID-19 remains at manageable levels and does not overwhelm our health care system. As we work to slowly reopen businesses, we continue to monitor how this novel coronavirus is impacting residents of Mesa County.
A key component of ensuring our case counts remain low is a continued emphasis on case investigation, which starts with testing. In order to fully understand the impacts of COVID-19 in our area, we are asking all residents who are feeling sick, to get tested for COVID-19. This expansion is possible because we now have access to the materials we need. “Because testing supplies were limited, communities across the country had to prioritize to ensure those who were most at risk could be tested. Now, we have what we need to ramp up testing in Mesa County,” Jeff Kuhr, Executive Director of Mesa County Public Health said.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing as well as chills, repeated shaking with chills, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell.
With the help of our hospitals and other community partners, Mesa County Public Health has been running a community sampling site since mid-March. The site is currently collecting samples from about 25 people per day. We hope to significantly increase that over the next three weeks. “We have supplies and ability to collect more than 50 tests a day, so that’s our goal,” Heidi Dragoo, Epidemiology Program Manager at Mesa County Public Health said.
How do I get sampled for COVID-19?
If you are feeling sick we’re encouraging you to have a sample collected to see if your illness is COVID-19. The symptoms have been expanded to include:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell.
Symptom screening is occurring at many workplaces and businesses. If your place of employment is open, but you aren’t working because you’re sick with COVID-19 symptoms, you meet the criteria for testing. In addition, we’re now able to sample some residents who don’t currently have symptoms, including people who need to re-enter a congregate setting, for example, a nursing home, homeless shelter, or migrant housing.
Mesa County Public Health’s community sampling site continues to operate by appointment. Call 970-683-2300 for COVID-19 screening.
Do I need a note from my doctor?
No. However, if you have a primary care provider, we encourage you to call them first. They can send us a referral. If you do not have a healthcare provider, please call 970-683-2300 and select option 2, COVID-19 screening.
How much does it cost?
COVID-19 testing through the MCPH community sampling site is free for people who meet the current sampling criteria. Call 970-683-2300 for COVID-19 screening.
Does it hurt?
The supplies we use have changed, the majority of those at our community sampling site will use a self-swab. The patient places an object, slightly larger than a q-tip up your nose. From check in to drive out, the entire process can be completed in about 15 minutes. This is a different process than when tests first started being done, a much longer object was used and someone else administered it. You still come to our community sampling location so our experts can make sure the sample is collected properly, and so we can ship it to the labs used to examine the samples. You’ll get your results within a few days.
I don’t have symptoms now, but think I have had COVID-19, should I be tested?
This test detects current infection from COVID-19, it is not useful in determining past exposure in fully recovered patients. There are many different types of tests for COVID-19 emerging. At our community sampling site, we collect samples to test for a specific virus. This molecular-based, or PCR test is the most accurate, FDA-approved testing available at this time. Mesa County Public Health also plans to offer antibody testing, watch for information about this other type of test in the very near future.
Why are you testing more now?
We were limited by two factors, testing supplies and criteria for sampling. Mesa County Public Health through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has access to additional supplies through the end of May, and around the same time, the Centers for Disease and Control expanded the criteria. We’re looking to significantly increase our testing. In addition, we’re working with area clinics and healthcare providers to offer more locations throughout the community for COVID-19 testing.
If you’re feeling sick get a COVID-19 test. You can call 970-683-2300 for an appointment.