As the coronavirus also known by the disease its causes, COVID-19, spreads throughout the country and state, many Carroll countians are likely to wonder whether they should be tested. Here’s a guide on what you should do if you’re asking that question:
Health department advice
Anyone who thinks they or a family member might be showing coronavirus symptoms can call the Carroll County Health Department’s COVID-19 hotline, which is available 8 a.m. through 5 p.m. seven days a week at 410-876-4848, or contact their doctor. After hours, callers may leave a message or call 211. People with emergencies should continue to call 911.
The health department plans to inform the public when testing is expanded through its website at https://cchd.maryland.gov/covid-19/ and social media channels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
“Testing is limited at this time because COVID-19 is a new infection, and laboratories are working rapidly to increase availability,” the health department wrote.
Testing is only available to those who have been referred by a heath care provider. Those who show worsening or severe symptoms — such as trouble breathing — should contact their medical provider. Those who are 65 or older, have other medical issues, are pregnant, or are immunocompromised should do so even with mild symptoms.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath.
The health department in a news release gave the following guidelines:
• If you have no symptoms, you do not need to be tested.
• If you have mild symptoms, you should stay home and monitor your symptoms. You do not need to be tested.
• If your symptoms worsen, contact your health care provider who can decide if you need testing.
• If you are over the age of 65, have other medical issues, or are immunocompromised, call your healthcare provider even if your illness is mild. You are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and your health care provider will decide if you need testing.
• If you are pregnant, call your health care provider even if your illness is mild. It is not yet known if pregnant women are at higher risk of COVID-19; your health care provider will decide if you need testing.
• If you have severe symptoms, such as trouble breathing, seek immediate medical care.
If you have any type of respiratory illness, follow these steps to isolate yourself, monitor your illness, and prevent the spread of illness to others:
• Separate yourself from other family members as much as possible
• You may wear a facemask around others if you have one
• Avoid sharing household items
• Wash your hands and clean surfaces often
• Monitor your symptoms and temperature
You may return to work and other activities after you have been without symptoms and fever-free without medication for at least 72 hours or 7 days after your symptoms started, whichever is longer. A cough may persist, so continue to cover your cough.
Drive-up testing at Carroll Hospital
Carroll Hospital is offering drive-up testing for the coronavirus, though that testing is only open to individuals who have been screened and referred by their physician.
The hospital has set up a specimen collection tent on the third floor of its parking garage to allow for the rapid testing of those suspected of having the coronavirus but are not yet showing symptoms. Those specimens collected are then sent to LabCorp for analysis, with results taking three to four days.
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“People can drive up to be tested, so it is mobile testing, however, they have to be screened first through their primary care provider, who is then referring them to a LifeBridge telehealth triaging system,” said Carroll Hospital President and Executive Vice President of LifeBridge Health Leslie Simmons. “We are utilizing the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines to determine who is at high risk, and if they meet high risk criteria, then they are referred to Carroll Hospital’s specimen collection tent.”
The tent is open from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., then from noon to 6 p.m.
“The hospitals are going to get to capacity very quickly and we need to make sure we have space for the sickest of the sick," Simmons said. “We erected the tent outside the emergency department because we are concerned we will run out of capacity quickly and the tents will help us manage that to some degree.”
Testing at Carroll County Agriculture Center
As of May 14, Carroll County Agriculture Center in Westminster will host a state-sponsored, community-based drive-thru testing site.
Tests will be offered by appointment only to Maryland residents who show symptoms of COVID-19. Patients must have an order from a health care provider and an appointment.
To schedule an appointment at a state testing site, people should first call a health care provider, who can order and schedule a test using the state’s health information exchange — patients cannot order tests for themselves.
Anyone concerned about coronavirus symptoms can call the Carroll County Health Department’s COVID-19 hotline, which is available 8 a.m. through 5 p.m. seven days a week at 410-876-4848, or contact their doctor. After hours, callers may leave a message or call 211.