PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. -- Many viewers have emailed and called ABC Action News to ask why they haven’t been tested for COVID-19 even after feeling sick.
Doctors at BayCare in Clearwater say there are a lot of things that could make you sick at the moment like the flu, common cold and bacterial infections. They say because of that, not everyone needs to be tested for coronavirus.
Never the less, concerns over coronavirus are building in the U.S.
“For our lifetime, this is a little bit unprecedented mainly because of the size and scope of this infection,” said Dr. Nishant Anand, the Executive VP and Chief medical officer for BayCare Health System.
The World Health Organization has now deemed coronavirus a pandemic but is strongly urging folks to focus less on that word and more on how to control it.
Florida currently has just over 20 cases.
Strict guidelines, and certain symptoms are helping doctors decide who needs to be tested for COVID-19. Traveling to a high risk country is one factor.
“If you’ve traveled internationally and you have symptoms which would include fever, shortness of breath, or cough you should speak with your provider about being tested,” said Dr. Anand. “If you’ve been around anyone that has tested positive for COVID-19 — absolutely you should also be tested”
A doctor must recommend testing at this point and all tests must go through either one of the three state labs. Results take about 20 to 40 hours.
Private companies like LabCorp and Quest are also testing commercially but those results could take longer because they are sent out of state.
“We have a really experienced group of individuals that have been trained in testing and whether it’s the COVID-19 disease or influenza they know what signs and symptoms to look for,” said Dr. Anand.
He says if we see a larger community spread of the virus more tests will likely be made available.
“As the incidences increase and more people are infected, we hope we don’t get to that route but when and if we do, the labs that are currently doing it will be overwhelmed,” he said.
Which means, other facilities will need to step in. He says BayCare is prepared if that is asked of them.
They say this is a great time to use telemedicine apps. BayCare anywhere can be found in your app store. They say this will see you from coming in contact with other people on your way to the doctor’s office or hospital.
They say if you qualify for additional testing, they can send you to the appropriate place.
Tampa General Hospital and AdventHealth both have apps as well.