March 12, 2020
What is Fairfax County Health Department’s role in COVID-19 testing?
- Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD) works with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to approve COVID-19 testing done at the VDH lab. Testing at the public health lab is prioritized to those who are deemed at highest risk for infection/transmission, such as symptomatic contacts to a confirmed case, symptomatic individuals who are long-term care facility residents, and healthcare providers.
- Fairfax County Health Department does not assess patients or collect specimens for COVID-19 testing. Patients who have symptoms of COVID-19 need 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 (LabCorp and Quest) for patients who do not fall into a group where Health Department investigation and prioritization is being done.
How do providers test patients for COVID-19?
- PCR testing is now available for healthcare providers through LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics. Testing through Mayo Clinic, UVA, and VCU is under development.
- Providers requesting testing will need to collect specimens at healthcare facilities (commercial labs will not collect specimens at this time).
Who should be tested for COVID-19?
- Providers should use their judgment to determine if a patient should be tested. Factors to consider include whether the patient has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19, the clinical course of illness, potential exposures, and the local epidemiology of COVID-19.
- Most patients with confirmed COVID-19 have developed fever and/or symptoms of acute respiratory illness (e.g., cough, difficulty breathing).
- Providers are strongly encouraged to test for other causes of respiratory illness, such as influenza, before testing for COVID-19.
What PPE is recommended for healthcare providers who are providing care for patients who are suspected to have COVID-19?
- Interim infection prevention and control recommendations for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 in healthcare settings recently have been updated by the CDC and can be found on their website.
- At this time, current recommendations for collecting COVID-19 specimens include placing the patient in a single-person room with the door closed. The healthcare provider collecting the specimen should wear an N95 respirator, a face shield or goggles, gown, and gloves. If an N95 respirator is not available, a facemask can be used for respiratory protection.
Where do healthcare providers refer patients to if they are unable to safely collect specimens or do not have access to commercial labs that currently offer testing?
- There is no single designated COVID-19 testing site location in Fairfax County at this time.
- Providers are responsible for reaching out to their affiliated healthcare facilities to find an appropriate testing location.
- Patients who are referred for commercial testing at another facility should call ahead to identify themselves as a suspect COVID-19 patient.
What public health recommendations do providers need to tell patients who they test for COVID-19?
- All patients who are tested for COVID-19 need to stay at home and away from others until a test result is received (self-isolation).
- If the lab results are positive, public health will follow-up on the patient to give the appropriate guidance and to initiate an investigation.
- Household contacts and other close contacts of tested individuals should be advised to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. If they develop symptoms, they should be evaluated by a healthcare provider.
- Additional guidance to provide patients who are tested can be found on the What Do I Need To Know If I Am Tested For COVID-19 guidance page.