YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Many are wondering exactly who should get tested for COVID-19.
With many infections resulting in mild symptoms that can be managed at home and new drive-thru testing sites being announced almost daily, the question on testing for the coronavirus or to just see if you’ve ever had it is an ongoing concern.
The Ohio Department of Health released new guidelines this week that modifies priority groups established by the CDC to meet the specific needs of Ohio. This happened because of changes in testing availability and evolving knowledge about the disease.
Right now, testing is being reserved for patients who meet a certain priority level. They are listed 1-5. Patients in levels 1 through 4 should be tested first.
Guidance for people who fall in level 5, which are those who are asymptomatic and don’t fall into any other category, will be prioritized for testing at a later date, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
The priority levels are listed below:
- Hospitalized patients with symptoms.
- Healthcare personnel with symptoms. This includes behavioral health providers, home health workers, nursing facility and assisted living employees, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), housekeepers and others who work in healthcare and congregate living settings.
- Residents of long-term care facilities and other congregate living settings who are symptomatic.
- Residents and staff of long-term care facilities and congregate living settings who are asymptomatic with potential exposure to COVID-19 when a case is detected in a facility. The purpose of testing individuals who are exposed and asymptomatic is to facilitate more specific isolation and quarantine within the congregate living setting to reduce the risk of virus transmission to other residents.3 In these cases, the extent of testing will be determined by the local health department in consultation with the facility medical director or other clinical leadership.
- Patients 65 years of age and older with symptoms.
- Patients with underlying conditions with symptoms.
- Consideration should be given for testing racial and ethnic minorities with underlying illness, as they are disproportionately affected by adverse COVID-19 outcomes.
- First responders, public health workers, and critical infrastructure workers with symptoms.
- Other individuals or groups designated by public health authorities to evaluate and manage community outbreaks, including those within workplaces and other large gatherings.
- Individuals receiving essential surgeries and procedures, including those who were reassessed after a delay.
- Individuals receiving all other medically necessary procedures.
- Individuals receiving non-essential/elective surgeries and procedures, effective June 2.
- Individuals in the community to decrease community spread, including individuals with symptoms who do not meet any of the above categories.
Hospitals and local communities are working together within their zones to provide community testing.
The role of testing is to quickly identify people with the virus, isolate them, trace contacts, and then isolate those contacts.
Hundreds of contact tracers have been hired by the state of Ohio.
The first step of the contact tracing process following a positive COVID-19 involves a public health worker reaching out to you. They will ask you to voluntarily answer questions about who you have been in contact with.
The public health worker will call those you have been in contact with tell them to self-quarantine for 14 days.