- The criteria for COVID-19 public health testing by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) at the state lab (DCLS) have been updated. This update is reflective of public health’s shift to prioritize case identification among high risk populations and de-emphasizes the testing of symptomatic contacts to a confirmed case in non-high-risk settings. Please utilize the public health testing algorithm, which can also be found on FCHD’s COVID-19 provider webpage
- All requests for public health testing need to be submitted electronically. This link is also found on FCHD’s COVID-19 provider webpage. Requests can only be made for patients by their healthcare provider. Requests will be reviewed seven days a week by public health staff and further instructions will be provided via the request portal.
- FCHD does not assess patients or collect specimens for COVID-19 testing. Patients who have symptoms of COVID-19 may need a medical evaluation which is best performed by a primary care provider.
- COVID-19 testing is commercially available and health care providers should rely on commercial labs for patients who do not fall into a group identified for public health lab testing.
- Providers testing commercially will need to collect specimens as commercial labs will not collect specimens at this time.
- Healthcare providers who are unable to safely collect specimens (see updated guidance) or do not have access to commercial labs currently offering testing are responsible for reaching out
- COVID-19 is a rapidly reportable condition in Virginia. Healthcare providers are legally required to report all symptomatic individuals with contact to a confirmed case (suspect case) and positive lab reports to the local health department immediately. Providers should report cases electronically.
- Providers should immediately triage and place a mask on all patients with fever and cough.
- Providers should use their judgment to determine if a patient should be tested. CDC guidance for who to consider testing for can be found on their website.
- Providers are strongly encouraged to test for other causes of respiratory illness, such as influenza, before testing for COVID-19.
- All providers should use the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when evaluating and collecting specimens for potential COVID-19 patients. VDH interim guidance on the use of personal protective equipment for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases in shortage situations is also attached.
- All patients who are tested for COVID-19 (commercially and through public health) should be told to stay at home and away from others until they receive test results. Further public health guidance will be provided if the lab result is positive. A patient guidance document can be found on FCHD’s COVID-19 provider webpage.
- Household contacts to the tested patient should be advised to remain alert for subjective fever, cough, or difficulty breathing. If they feel feverish or develop cough or difficulty breathing during the self-observation period, they should take their temperature, self-isolate, limit contact with others, and seek advice by telephone from a healthcare provider to determine whether medical evaluation is needed.
- Patients who are referred for commercial testing at a medical facility should call ahead to identify themselves as a suspect COVID-19 patient.
REPORTING OF COVID-19 RESULTS TO PATIENTS
- All laboratory testing completed though public health (VDH State Lab) have results reported through the patient’s local health department. The local health department is responsible for sharing these results with the healthcare provider and the patient.
- All laboratory test results from commercial/private laboratories will be reported back to the provider directly from the commercial/private lab. The provider who requested testing will be responsible for reporting results to the patient. Providers are also required to report these cases electronically This link is also found on FCHD’s COVID-19 provider webpage.
Categories of Health Alert messages: Health Alert conveys the highest level of importance; warrants immediate action or attention. Health Advisory provides important information for a specific incident or situation; may not require immediate action.