OMAHA – As the state braces for further cases of community acquired COVID-19 infection, public health officials, health care providers, and laboratories are working daily to increase Nebraska’s capacity to test more people for COVID-19.
Currently, testing supplies are limited, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. “Local, state, and federal partners are working to expand testing supplies and the ability to test people experiencing symptoms as quickly as possible,” NE DHHS said in a Saturday press release.
“While we work to increase supplies and testing, health care providers and local health departments are screening people to prioritize testing for those who have the highest likelihood of being exposed to or having COVID-19,” the release continued.
Screening criteria includes:
- Hospitalized patients who have signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19.
- People with symptoms who are also older adults and individuals with underlying health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and lung disease that may put them at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.
- People who have had close contact with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patient in the last 14 days, and have symptoms starting after this contact.
- People who have a history of travel from affected areas (international or U.S. – https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices#alert ) in the last 14 days and have symptoms starting after this contact.
Other factors may also help guide COVID-19 testing decisions, like COVID-19 infections in a certain area and known community transmission. These standards may change over the coming days, as well.
Health departments and medical providers are testing for COVID-19 infection only when specific symptoms are present, to conserve testing supplies. Self-quarantine is generally being used to isolate individuals who are not symptomatic, but had a possible exposure. These individuals are to monitor for symptoms and may need to be tested if symptoms develop. These individuals will not all require testing.
There is no pharmaceutical “cure” for COVID-19 infection, and most cases will be able to recover in their own homes by treating the symptoms and resting under self-quarantine. Severe cases requiring hospitalization are, so far, much fewer than mild cases in Nebraska.