Last Week’s Provider Forum Answers Frequently Asked Questions

Last Friday’s Forum Answered Some of Your Pressing Questions

Last Friday, NC DHHS and NC AHEC offered its first call-in Forum for health care professionals to answer questions you have about response to Covid-19. Below are some of the broad categories of questions with links to the latest information posted on the NCDHHS and CDC webpages.

Another call-in Forum is slated for this Friday, March 20 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Please submit your questions by 5 p.m. on Wednesday to questionsCOVID19forum@gmail.com.

Access the forum through your computer at https://zoom.us/j/705979628. Or you can dial-in for audio-only, by calling 1-646-558-8656 and entering the conference ID: 705979628#.

During last Friday’s Forum, NCDHHS Medical Epidemiologist Erica Wilson, MD, MPH, answered questions and offered resource links in the following areas:

Who to test for Covid-19:
While we’re in cold and flu season, Dr. Wilson stressed it is important to distinguish the broad range of Covid-19 symptoms from a cold or flu. At this point, a person who is asymptomatic, should not be tested, she said.

As of Friday, the state lab and LabCorp were performing tests for Covid-19. For testing through the state lab, prior approval by your local health department or the state epidemiologist on call is necessary. Testing through LabCorp does not require prior approval.

Symptom criteria for testing:

  •  Fever OR signs/symptoms of lower respiratory illness (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) in any person, including healthcare workers, who has had close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient within 14 days of symptom onset.
  • Fever AND signs/symptoms of lower respiratory illness (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) AND negative influenza test (rapid or PCR) and no other more likely diagnosis.

Here is the latest NCDHHS guidance on testing, specimen collection and shipping.

Here is LabCorp’s guidance document.

Dr. Wilson said that NCDHHS is working to compile a comprehensive list of clinics, public health departments and hospitals throughout the state that are equipped to offer testing.

She also said that as of Friday afternoon, the turnaround time for test results from LabCorp was three to four days. The state lab turnaround time depends on volume of test orders.

Once a person has been tested, Person Under Investigation (PUI) protocols are initiated, in which the person is isolated pending the test results. Learn more about these protocols.

Dr. Wilson also stressed that this is a reportable condition.

Personal Protective Equipment
Dr. Wilson directed health care providers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for the latest on personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements. Someone is at risk of infection if they are within six feet of a person who is infected with the virus for at least 10 minutes and/or come in contact with any respiratory secretions from that person.

She urged clinics that do not have adequate PPE to find another location in the community where people may be seen or tested. NCDHHS is currently compiling a list of facilities in each county that can accommodate patients being sent to them. Ultimately, the individual practice will have to make the decision on seeing patients who may need to be tested, she said.

If you have questions about PPE, she encouraged you to send them to ncresponse@dhhs.nc.gov

Other information from the Forum
In answer to other questions during the Forum, Dr. Wilson said that the specifics for Covid-19 as far as viral shedding and spread are still not known.

When asked if the warmer spring and summer weather would perhaps mitigate the spread of the virus, she only commented: “We’ll see.”

 
 

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