State says Johnson County will get less coronavirus testing; how are other areas handling tests?

Tracking Coronavirus
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This is a picture of CDC’s laboratory test kit for the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). CDC is shipping the test kits to laboratories CDC has designated as qualified, including U.S. state and local public health laboratories, Department of Defense (DOD) laboratories and select international laboratories. The test kits are bolstering global laboratory capacity for detecting 2019-nCov.

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With the spread of coronavirus picking up in the metro area, there’s been some confusion about what to do and where to go if you think you might be infected.

One metro county even said Wednesday they won’t be testing people with minor symptoms due to limited tests available.

So FOX4 asked local health departments about their procedures for those concerned that they have COVID-19.

One common request: Don’t just show up. If you believe you have symptoms of coronavirus, call your doctor’s office, an urgent care or hospital so staff are prepared.

In Johnson County, testing must be ordered by a physician. The doctor will swab a patient’s nose and send the sample to a commercial lab for testing.

The Johnson County Health Department is not doing any testing itself at this time.

In counties with community spread, which is only Johnson County at this time, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Wednesday it will only test hospitalized patients.

Johnson County has the most confirmed cases of coronavirus with 12 as of Wednesday night, and five of those people didn’t contract the virus through travel or a known patient.

But the state health department said the number of tests is limited, and testing too many people with minor symptoms would also put a strain on labs.

So now people with mild symptoms are being asked to isolate at home unless their symptoms get worse.

What are other health departments doing?

Like Kansas, Missouri is low on the number of tests it has. But Gov. Mike Parson said that should change soon.

Parson said state officials are planning to roll out mobile testing sites over the next two weeks and he expects to be able to test 6,000 people a week by the beginning of April.

The KCMO Health Department said it first does a flu test. If it comes back negative and a patient is showing symptoms, they can be tested for the virus.

But if the state lab is used, patients have to meet certain criteria at this time. A patient must have a fever, cough and trouble breathing — and have been in close contact with someone who has coronavirus or live in or have recently traveled to an area with an ongoing spread of the virus.

That criteria could change in the coming weeks, according to Parson.

If you meet the criteria, state tests are free. Doctors don’t have to follow the criteria if they send samples to a private lab, but then there’s a cost to the patient.

The Jackson County Health Department referred FOX4 to the CDC’s website, which advises people to call their health care provider for medical advice. If you don’t have a doctor, call an urgent care or hospital.

People who are mildly ill are urged to stay home and stay away from others, according to the CDC, but should keep in touch with their doctor in case they get worse.

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