BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — As the world continues to deal with the spread of COVID-19, many people are wondering where to get tested for the virus.
However, there’s a lot of confusion on what testing means versus screening.
“It is not a diagnostic testing tool for asymptomatic patients so we have to prioritize the patients who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and that’s why the screening and testing is so critical to make sure we have accurate data and accurate confirmation of cases,” said Bay County Health Department Administrator/ Health Officer Sandon Speedling, MHS, CPM.
If someone feels as if they are experiencing coronavirus symptoms, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, they should call the Department of Health immediately.
The person will then be screened through a list of questions, laid out by the Center for Disease control.
“The testing is going to require some swabs. Some nasal swabs that are in a medium and then that’s sent off for testing and then anywhere between 5-7 days hopefully we’ll find out what the results are and then we can move from there,” Speedling said.
There are currently multiple places someone deemed necessary will get physically tested for the virus.
“Currently testing is being held at the health department and both hospitals. That’s Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center and Ascension Bay Health. We also have a couple of private physicians’ offices in Bay County that have agreed to test which is nice. We are very thankful for that,” Speedling said.
He said more private practices are volunteering to partner with the department as well.
However, Speedling says people should only go to the hospitals or emergency rooms if they feel as if they absolutely need it.
Brad Griffin, Gulf Coast Regional CEO, said if someone feels like they need to come in because the symptoms are so severe, do so but call first.
The hospital has also started screening all visitors before they’re allowed into the building.
He said if someone does have the symptoms, they will be evaluated in different stages. The hospital personnel is equipped with the proper gear to keep them safe and that also increases with severity.
“As your risk goes up to be a potential carrier of the COVID virus then the way that our staff don protective gear also increases as a result,” said Griffin.
As of 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Bay County has only tested five people for the virus. Four are negative. The other test is pending.
When it comes to the cost, if someone is sent to be tested from the Department of Health, Public Information Officer Heather Kretzer said it will come at no cost.
A private physician will have their own rates.
The Florida Department of Health has also launched a new website, focused solely on COVID-19 and the latest updates.