Waiting for COVID-19 test results? Spokane Regional Health said you should isolate

SPOKANE, Wash. — Turnaround times for a COVID-19 result is taking as long as 12 days, according to Spokane Regional Health. For some larger laboratories, the delay is as long as isolation.

SRHD has laid out advice for different scenarios if you have COVID-19, come into contact with someone who does or are waiting for lab results.

“If individuals are testing and being tested, they need to presume that they are positive until told otherwise, meaning isolate,” said Dr. Bob Lutz, medical officer with Spokane Regional Health.

If you test positive or have symptoms, the health district said to immediately isolate yourself. If you were waiting for a result, health officials recommend that you should have been in isolation.

“Isolation is at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared and three days with no symptoms and no fever without fever reducing medications,” said Susan Sjoberg, program manager for Disease Prevention and Response at the Spokane Health District.

If you test positive but have no symptoms, you should still isolate for 10 days since you got the results.

What if you’ve been exposed and weren’t using the recommended PPE? Sjoberg said you should still get tested. However, if you don’t have any symptoms, get tested four to seven days after you were potentially exposed.

“If you test during this test period and test negative, you still remain in quarantine for the full 14 days because you can still develop the infection during that 14-day window,” she explained.

While you’re under quarantine or isolation, Sjoberg said to distance yourself from other people in your home.

“Adults should stay away and stay home and stay away from others in the household for the recommended period of time to limit avoid spreading the illness,” Sjoberg explained.

During this time, they don’t recommend you going out or working. There’s help to fill those gaps. SRHD has set up a care coordination team.

They provide resources for unemployment, picking up medications and getting food to you.

“When those needs are identified, they’re turned over to a Care Coordination team who then helps to monitor them for their full isolation or full quarantine period and helps support them during that time,” Sjoberg said.

Currently, they’re helping 75 people. This number can include multiple people in one household.

While the health district focuses on informing people to isolate or quarantine, they’re also battling challenges.

“We are having a huge backlog in results of tests, which is making our work very, very difficult,” Lutz said. “Especially for the large laboratories, such as Quest and LabCorp. The delay is, in some situations, as long as we’re asking people to isolate.”

This problem is felt through multiple health care partners and public health on a local, state and national level, Lutz said. He adds that supply and demand is another battle.

Lutz explained that across the globe, there is a need for more swabs, testing kits, machines and staffing. The demand for testing is also rising.

Another concern of his are those who don’t have any symptoms. Lutz said this is probably what’s driving much of Spokane County’s infections right now.

On Monday, 52 people tested positive. 25 Spokane County residents are in the hospital.

“Because of the backlog in testing, we are seeing a backlog in case counts, so the numbers that I’m reporting today — I would share with you may have been individuals who were tested a week ago, which means they may have been infected two weeks prior to that,” Lutz explained.

To slow the spread, health officials say we need to change our daily lives.

“People need to change their behaviors to reflect the dynamics of COVID-19 on the ground and until people can consistently do that, it’s going to be challenging to move anywhere but where we are staying put,” Lutz said.

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