New federal guidelines spell out who can get tested for the COVID-19 coronavirus

Can you get a COVID-19 coronavirus test whenever you want one? The short answer is no, you can’t get tested on your own. There is no test you can buy in a store or online for COVID-19 coronavirus.  You can’t go to a hospital or clinic or just ask your doctor to be tested.

But the Snohomish County Health District is now following new federal guidelines (as of March 4) that will allow testing for a wider group of people who show certain coronavirus symptoms. Effective now, the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) allow anyone with symptoms that include fever, cough or difficulty breathing to be tested – if a doctor agrees.

That’s the critical phrase — if a doctor agrees. Only doctors can approve the test.

The Snohomish County Health District reports eight cases of  COVID-19, and one death in the county. The Washington State Public Health Laboratory in Shoreline now says it “…has the capacity to test up to about 100 people per day.” But, it adds that it is not yet at that level. The state is also working with the University of Washington Virology Lab “to ramp up capacity to test.”

The State Department of Health says in a news release that “ the Public Health Lab is not charging patients for these tests.” At a federal hearing, the Commissioner of the Federal Drug Administration, Dr. Stephan Hahn, told senators that labs nationwide should be able to “conduct up to a million tests by the end of the week.”

Bottom line: If you believe you have symptoms of  the COVID-19 coronavirus, call or text your doctor or health clinic. Do not go in person, and do not go to hospital emergency rooms.

Also, monitor the Snohomish Health District website for updates.

— By Bob Throndsen


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