Medical experts explain coronavirus testing

Published: Mar. 6, 2020 at 12:35 PM CST
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Thursday, Governor Andy Beshear announced that the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) began testing for COVID-19 at its state laboratory in Frankfort on Monday, March 2.

So far, the state of Kentucky has tested seven individuals. Four of the seven have come back negative and three are being processed.

COVID-19 tests consist of a nasal and oral swab.

"Testing is going to become commercially available next week so it won't be necessary to send something to Frankfort. It won't be necessary to get someone's approval to have a test done," said Infectious Disease & Travel Medicine Specialist, Dr. Rebecca Shadowen.

"Quest Diagnostics Monday will be accepting samples and by midweek we expect Solaris, which is a laboratory in Nicholasville, Kentucky that may be able to do that. That is a part of the working together of the health care system in the United States. So the FDA said we will make an accelerated approval for tests that meet a standard of quality and allow those to be used right away."

The health care field will also soon start testing for medications as well.

"As a part of our community response in health care, the NIAID (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) has opened testing for medications, and... their application to do this includes the ability to add new drugs," added Shadowen. "So instead of having to go for a whole new application for new drugs and trials, the label that they have allows them to add any drug they might find to be effective."

As of Friday, the state of Kentucky has no confirmed cases of COVID-19 but neighboring states, Indiana and Tennessee, have both confirmed at least one case of the virus.

Medical professionals are advising that you be courteous to your community. Wash your hands, try your best to not touch your face and cover your mouth or nose when you cough or sneeze.

"Its incubation period is the problem so, in the flu, you usually see symptoms of infection at two or three days after exposure but with this particular virus, the average is five days," added Shadowen. "Sometimes it may go to 14, the window of exposure is 14 days. What that means is if you have traveled someplace or been exposed to somebody and it has been longer than 14 days then you are out of the real concern.

"If you are walking around though for several days without symptoms carrying it, everybody you come into contact with can be exposed to it. Which is why we say please, as a community do social distancing, be careful, cough, sniffle or sneeze and be careful with the secretion because those can be contagious to others."

There is one key difference between the coronavirus and the flu. Medical experts say that COVID-19 attacks your respiratory system whereas the flu does not.