SWEETWATER COUNTY — The Sweetwater County COVID-19 Emergency Operations Center today announced it has expanded local testing efforts for the COVID-19 Coronavirus.
“There are two critical components to testing for the COVID-19 virus: nasal swabs and transport media,” said Sweetwater County Public Health Director Kim Lionberger.
“Transport media is a medical term for the chemical solution needed to store collected specimens and transport them to the lab for testing,” Lionberger explained.
On April 2, the Wyoming Department of Health began restricting testing to six priority categories; patients who did not fall into one of these categories were forced to turn to a private lab for testing. On Thursday, April 23, the state lifted these restrictions.
“When we encountered our first documented positive cases here in Wyoming, there was a nationwide shortage of transport media,” Sweetwater County Health Officer Dr. Jean Stachon said. “In coordination with state health officials, county public health now has a healthy supply of testing materials including transport media, which we have distributed to Sweetwater Memorial and Castle Rock.”
“As long as a state test kit is used, it is now possible for anyone who is feeling ill, not just those with a fever, cough or shortness of breath, to consult their primary care provider who can then order a diagnostic test at no cost to the patient in order to determine whether they are suffering from COVID,” she said.
County health authorities over the weekend also learned that antibody testing is now readily available through ARUP Laboratories, which has a medical lab in Salt Lake City.
Whereas generally diagnostic tests are designed to directly detect who is infected with a disease, antibody tests are generally used to identify who has already been infected.
In the case of COVID-19, a negative antibody test is most useful in identifying those who have not been exposed to the disease, but it remains unclear among the medical community at large if those who test positive for the antibody may be immune from reinfection or how long any possible immunity might last, if at all.
According to Lionberger, while testing is a tool, not a panacea, and no test is perfect, the availability of both diagnostic and antibody testing is an important piece in beginning to understand the true prevalence and spread of this disease in our community.
“While there is a minimal cost associated with these antibody tests, we encourage anyone who is interested in getting tested for COVID-19 antibodies to consult their primary care provider,” she said.
THE LATEST COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS NEWS & INFO FROM THE WYOMING DEPT. OF HEALTH
What to do if you feel sick: If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and are showing symptoms, please call your primary care provider or seek medical attention.
Please follow these tips to slow the spread of this virus:
- Follow Public Health Orders
- Practice social distancing of 6 feet or more.
- Wear cloth face coverings in public settings, especially when physical distancing of at least 6 feet isn’t available.
- Stay home when sick and avoid other people unless you need medical attention.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Older people and those with health conditions that mean they have a higher chance of getting seriously ill should avoid close-contact situations.
- Long-term care and healthcare facilities should follow guidelines for infection control and prevention.
For current news, updates, closures and resources, please visit our COVID-19 Coronavirus page here.