- People who have no symptoms
The CDC also says doctors should use their judgment to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and if they should be tested. COVID-19 is a reportable disease, so any doctor who performs a test must report the results to the state health department.
The CDC’s latest guidelines on testing clinicians recommend working with their state and local health departments to coordinate testing through public health labs, or working with clinical or commercial labs to obtain tests.
But those avenues failed when Viswanathan tried to test a patient who seemed like a textbook case.
The 28-year-old, a single mother, had visited Italy, including Milan, for 10 days in early March, then had a cough, mild fever and shortness of breath. The woman was also working at Newark Airport to screen people, so she was worried about infecting others.
Despite calls to the New Jersey Department of Health, two New Jersey hospitals, including Trinitas Regional Medical Center where Viswanathan is attending physician, and three private laboratories – Quest, LabCorp, and Accu Reference – the response was the same: she the patient was too young.
Viswanathan’s practice has since received 15 diagnostic test kits with nasopharyngeal swabs to test for COVID-19. Its staff also recovered some N95 masks. Staff will give the new tests, but more will be needed as well as personal protective equipment.
In addition, a new drive-thru test center has opened in Union County of New Jersey, for residents only, in partnership with local universities and hospitals.
Viswanathan says test results can change public behavior.
âAt least having something on a piece of paper that says ‘you have this virus, stay home and don’t infect others’, especially the elderly grandmother or the immunocompromised parent, could go a long way. in the coming months towards prevention, which is my ultimate goal. Knowing which is positive can prevent these patients from spreading it, “she said.
Easier access to testing and a more accurate number of people with the disease in the general population, such as in South Korea, “could keep our vulnerable population safe and contain the virus a bit faster.”
Janice McDonald contributed to this report.