BULLHEAD CITY — Questions continue to arise across the United States about when someone should be tested
There are testing guidelines to help health care professionals determine whether testing would be appropriate. But only a limited number of test kits are available right now.
The U.S. had conducted 41,552 such tests and the CDC has tested 21,105 samples as of Monday. Per capita, compared with the rest of the world, the U.S. is behind. About 10 times fewer tests have been done here than in Canada and more than 40 times fewer have been completed here than South Korea, according to Our World in Data.
Dr. Waheed Zehri, chief of staff at Western Arizona Regional Medical Center, said he is not only concerned about there not being enough tests available, he is worried that Gov. Doug Ducey’s latest orders aimed at sharply reducing the number of people who contract COVID-19 won’t help Mohave County residents stay virus-free.
Arizona Department of Health Services has been the authority deciding on which cases require patients be tested, Zehri said.
Among Ducey’s strategies announced Thursday to combat COVID-19: In counties where there have been confirmed cases of the virus, all restaurants would be limited to providing dine-out offerings and that all bars, gyms and movie theaters would close.
Zehri said Ducey’s actions should be in effect statewide because Mohave County hasn’t had as much testing as many of the counties that would be subject to Ducey’s latest orders.
“All counties should be on the same page,” Zehri said. “This is for the safety of the people. ... Waiting will be too late.”
Zehri said he is aware of at least one local patient who was not able to receive a COVID-19 test; it is a situation that is playing out across the country, especially in smaller cities and rural areas.
Areas where there have been higher concentrations of the virus — as determined through positive testing — seem to be the locations where more test kits are sent, said Ryan Perkins, a spokesman for Valley View Medical Center.
Two hot spots where the number of cases are high in the U.S. are Washington state and New York City, Perkins pointed out.
Both Zehri and Perkins said they hope more test kits will become available as soon as possible so there will be a clearer picture of how many people have contracted the virus.
Zehri said WARMC is working with Sonora Quest Laboratories to have that company conduct tests for the hospital. Sonora Quest is doing these tests in some other counties after gaining authorization to do so in Arizona. Still, the availability of test kits is slowing progress.
There are 44 COVID-19 cases in Arizona. No confirmed cases have turned up in Mohave County as of Thursday, although one patient at Kingman Regional Medical Center was awaiting conclusive results from a test that was termed “inconclusive” and could neither confirm nor rule out COVID-19.
The CDC advised clinicians to “use their judgment to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and whether the patient should be tested.”
Those with confirmed COVID-19 exhibit either or both signs of an acute respiratory illness, such as a cough and difficulty breathing, and a fever.
According to the CDC, testing should be done in instances such as when:
w Hospitalized patients exhibit such signs.
w Symptomatic older adults and those with chronic medical conditions, or people in an “immunocompromised state that may put them at higher risk for poor outcomes.” That could include diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung disease or chronic kidney disease as well as a patient who uses immunosuppressive medications.
w Someone who within 14 days of the onset of symptoms had close contact with a COVID-19 patient, or who had a history of travel from affected geographic areas within 14 days of exhibiting symptoms.
The CDC advises people with severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, to immediately seek care.
Older adults along with those with underlying medical conditions or are immunocompromised should contact their physician early on — even if it’s a mild illness.
And those people otherwise healthy who feel mildly ill should stay home and contact their healthcare provider from home for guidance about appropriate treatment.