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Southern Nevada Health District working on more COVID-19 testing kits

COVID19 testing
Posted at 5:24 PM, Mar 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-14 13:56:48-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — As the number of presumptive coronavirus cases grows in Clark County, so do the concerns and frustrations over the lack of testing kits.

“I believe we have about 1,000 tests available, for each kit you can run about 500 samples,” Dr. Vit Kraushaar, a medical investigator with the Southern Nevada Health District.

SNHD knows it’ll need to test more people than that. They’ve already tested more than 220 people. The district is trying to land enough kits to test 20,000 people.

“We have the capability to run on the order of 60 tests per day,” he said.

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The health district says the amount of testing depends on factors including how fast the lab can process them. It’s something Gov. Steve Sisolak says he’s working to address at a state-level.

“The capacity of the labs, and the men and women manning the labs and providing the services, we’re working on expanding that as quickly as possible,” Sisolak said.

Both patients and doctors are frustrated when people can’t get tested right away. The district is well aware.

“It concerns me that we have people potentially with COVID-19 who are having barriers to testing. That’s something we really need to work on improving,” Dr. Kraushaar said.

SNHD says private labs like Quest Diagnostics are helping alleviate the testing load. Still, plain and simple, they need more tests and need them now.

“This is something that we’re taking seriously and try to report these sorts of things up to the state to see if we can get assistance from that,” he said.

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Dr. Jeffrey Ng is a family physician in Summerlin and has seen patients worried about the new coronavirus.

“People come to the doctor’s office, and they say expect to be tested, I’ve actually had 3 patients today who felt they needed to be tested,’ he said.

He says while some really didn’t need to, others did qualify based on travel history and needed to meet stringent requirements from the CDC.

“We’re doing selective testing and selective screening, based on travel history, and based on exposure.”

Dr. Ng says that’s not enough, and expanded testing is needed to identify more potential cases.

“There are people who may have mild symptoms, but we’re not going to test, and they still could have a virus. That means that people don’t think they have the virus expose more people,” he said.

Dr. Ng says until more tests are available, patients should call their doctor first, if they feel they have symptoms before coming in, and to take precautions.

“Wash your hands. Avoid large crowds,” Dr. Ng said.