HEALTH

Coronavirus: how to get tested in Asheville, WNC and how long it takes – Citizen Times

Coronavirus: how to get tested in Asheville, WNC and how long it takes – Citizen Times

Elizabeth Anne Brown, Asheville Citizen Times
Published 12:49 p.m. ET March 16, 2020 | Updated 4:40 p.m. ET March 16, 2020CLOSE

Public officials urge precautions over coronavirus

WochitThe Citizen Times is providing this story for free to readers because of the need for information about the coronavirus. We encourage you to further support local journalism by subscribing.ASHEVILLE – Laboratory facilities across the country are ramping up capacity to test for COVID-19. But who can get tested in Asheville and Buncombe County, and how long does it take to get results? What should you do if you experience symptoms?Buncombe medical director and interim public health director Dr. Jennifer Mullendore gave these instructions on March 12. People struggling to breathe should call 911 “and communicate with the EMS dispatcher about what’s going on so that they can make the appropriate decisions on how to respond.”People who are not critically ill and have a primary care provider should call that provider before going to the office “so that they can screen you over the phone and assess the situation” and prevent unnecessary exposure to others.People who are not critically ill and do not have a primary care provider can either call an urgent care facility or call the Buncombe health department’s communicable disease line at 828-250-5109.Mullendore asked that the public use that number only if necessary because the department has been experiencing an extremely high volume of calls.Your primary care providerLocal physicians and other qualified health care providers can order a COVID-19 test. Don’t go to the local Department of Health and Human Services in person, and call your provider to see if you need to be tested before travelling to their office. More: Boyle column: Coronavirus and the fine line between freaking out and being preparedWhen a health care provider determines a test is necessary, they take a simple throat or nose swab in their own facility — patients aren’t routed to a lab to be tested there. The provider then sends the sample to one of several processing facilities — including private companies like LabCorp and the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health. The state lab has stricter guidelines for who can be tested, and different private laboratory facilities have different turnaround times for testing. More: Coronavirus: Event cancellations, closures and postponements in and around Asheville, WNCAutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext SlideSona Pharmacy + Clinic Sona Pharmacy + Clinic in East Asheville will be hosting another drive-through testing clinic on March 16, according to parent company Vickery Family Medicine’s Hilary Hollifield. The drive-thru testing clinic is expected to open at 3:30 p.m. and run until night falls or tests run out, “whichever comes first,” according to Hollifield. For patients without health insurance, an exam and testing is $250. Patients without health insurance who cannot afford self-pay are encouraged to contact the Buncombe County Health Department.More: Coronavirus: Asheville restaurants announce closures to ‘help break the cycle’Sona Pharmacy & Clinic directed visitors to do the following:Follow the signs in the parking lot to be directed into the tent. Have your driver’s license and health insurance card.Stay in your vehicle. A clinic employee will direct you on where to go and will give you the necessary paperwork before conducting testing.An initial screening test will be conducted by our medical provider to determine if COVID-19 testing is necessary. Once your test is conducted, a clinic employee will direct you to a parking spot to await further instructions.Other providers — including Integrative Family Medicine of Asheville and Our Family Doctor — have donated medical supplies and staff to support the effort, according to a March 15 social media post by Sona. Henderson County: Blue Ridge Community College Pardee is hosting a free drive-through screening site daily from 9 a.m.-7 p.m., according to a release from the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office. In order to be tested, community members must call the Pardee COVID-19 Helpline at 828-694-8048 before arrival. Testing will be available for people exhibiting symptoms of cough, fever greater than 100 degrees and shortness of breath, according to the release. The screening site is located on the campus of Blue Ridge Community College.North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health To send a test to the state lab, health care providers need approval from their local county health department or the state epidemiologist on call. Only patients that meet the following criteria will be considered for testing through the state lab, according to a March 13 release. If the patient has had close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient within 14 days of symptom onset: fever OR signs/symptoms of lower respiratory illness (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) Fever AND signs/symptoms of lower respiratory illness (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) AND negative influenza test and no other more likely diagnosis. The turnaround time for testing is “dependent on testing volumes,” according to the March 13 release. The state lab has supplies for “approximately 1,300 patients,” according to the NCDHHS website on March 16. So far, 329 tests have been completed there. More: Asheville, following county, declares local coronavirus state of emergencyLabCorpThe nationwide diagnostic company, headquartered in Burlington, N.C., expects to be able to perform “more than 10,000 tests per day by the end of the week” and “20,000 tests per day by the end of March,” according to a March 16 statement. The turnaround time through LabCorp is typically three to four days, according to a March 13 statement. Elizabeth Anne Brown is the trending news reporter for the Citizen Times. Reach her at eabrown@citizentimes.com, or follow her on Twitter @eabrown18.Keep local journalism possible with a subscription to the Citizen Times. Read or Share this story: https://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2020/03/16/coronavirus-how-get-tested-asheville-how-long-takes/5058117002/

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