Ohio has a new protocol to check for the coronavirus now that in-state testing is available for high-priority cases for hospitalized patients.
“As the COVID-19 situation evolves, the Ohio Department of Health, working in conjunction with hospitals, primary care providers, and other health care experts, has a plan to maximize our testing resources,” Gov. Mike DeWine said Saturday in a press release. “We are prioritizing the patients who are the most vulnerable to be tested in the Department of Health’s State Laboratory, while ensuring those that need COVID-19 testing will be able to be tested.”
The Ohio Department of Health can now process results in about 24-48 hours, said Dr. Amy Action, the department’s director.
Even as the state has ramped up its ability to test people, five patients in Ohio are awaiting results for tests that have already been taken, News 5 Cleveland said.
Of those five, two are being tested via the new state system, one by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and two by private lab LapCorp, the Plain Dealer said.
For those who are hospitalized and meet these criteria, making them high-priority, DeWine said, samples will be sent to the ODH state lab:
- Have a fever or signs/symptoms of lower respiratory illness, (e.g., cough or shortness of breath) and have had close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient within 14 days of symptom onset.
- Have a fever and signs/symptoms of lower respiratory illness, and a history of travel from affected geographic areas with widespread or sustained community transmission within 14 days of symptom onset.
- Have a fever with severe acute lower respiratory illness and lack of alternative diagnosis (e.g., negative respiratory viral panel, negative rapid flu).
People who have not hospitalized but meet the above criteria should call a physician or other healthcare provider, Acton said. If that healthcare provider determines a COVID-19 test is necessary, those samples will be sent to private labs who now have the capability to test.
ODH will continue to confirm all positive tests, regardless of where testing took place. In addition, ODH in partnership with local health departments will continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 in Ohio.
Symptoms of coronavirus — fever, cough and shortness of breath — can appear between two to 14 days from exposure, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, according to a story by The Ohio Star.
ODH will now also share updates on confirmed cases and Persons Under Investigation (PUIs) for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) every day on the ODH website by 2 p.m. That now includes weekends.
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.