COVID-19 Update 4/6/20
We have some good news that needs to be tempered by reality. The good news is that we have been working to bring rapid testing for COVID-19 to the community and we now have the tests. The part that requires care is that we have done so without the normal protections offered by the US Government bureaucracy and regulation. While we all like to complain about the functioning of our government, the FDA does an amazing job of making sure that medications and tests actually work as promised. In the rush to get testing out, those restrictions have been waived. Consequently, the testing that we currently have available is not as reliable as we would like.
It is also important to understand how these tests work. These tests tell us if your body has been fighting the virus that causes COVID-19. This means that if you just got the virus, you will not test positive. In fact, we would not expect a person to test positive for the antibodies until they had been infected for at least a week and possibly two weeks.
We have focused on this test for three reasons:
- It will help all of us in risk assessment so that we can get a better picture of what has happened and what is happening with this disease in our community,
- It will be very useful to know who has had this virus when we are given the greenlight to begin to reopen the economy
- It complements the work that is already being done by the hospital and other providers in our community.
Because the required equipment is limited, we want to focus our testing on just four populations for now. They are Hickory patients who meet any of these criteria:
- Have had symptoms of COVID-19 for at least 5 days (e.g. fever, cough, sore throat)
- People who are required to continue working under the current stay-at-home order (first responders, healthcare workers, people in high-contact positions)
- Have had contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 (we must wait at least 5 days after exposure or until there are symptoms to test.)
If you fit in one of these categories, please give the office a call and we will see about scheduling a test. These tests will not be run for patients who come for a regular visit - if you expose the staff of Hickory, you will keep us from serving over 1,000 other patients. If you have reason to believe that you may have the virus, call and we will schedule appropriate testing.
Also, please do not encourage non-Hickory patients to seek this service. We are making the tests available to all area practices at cost and want to avoid a situation where the Hickory testing site is overrun.
Costs to Hickory Patients will be $20. (We are trying to keep the price as low as possible, the prices of the tests, lab equipment, and protective gear just make it too much to include with regular labs.)
We are so grateful for the chance to serve you and the community. Please know that this is just the first step, but we will continue to work with folks to keep our community safe and prepared to return to work when we are given the green light. We are continuing to seek the best medical information we can about treatments (no news on this front yet) and prevention and will pass along what we learn.
For now, please keep following Governor DeWine’s stay-at-home order.
Do not hesitate to be in touch with questions, comments, or suggestions. I can be reached at this email or by phone (937-404-2489).
Extra-credit: It is so hard to keep doing something preventative. If it’s working, it looks unnecessary. Here’s a quick read from Psychology Today that talks about this a bit. It focuses on other preventive behaviors (the things that keep us from getting heart disease, help us stop smoking, etc.), but the same ideas apply. We really are doing well and it is exactly for that reason that we must remain patient and not give up on the social distancing that is keeping us safe.