What you need to know about COVID-19 testing in the Tri-Cities area

The coronavirus pandemic began in China. Today, it reported no new local infections for the first time

TRI-CITIES, Wash. — The Benton-Franklin Health District and four local healthcare systems released a joint statement Thursday on testing for COVID-19 in the Tri-Cities area. The health care systems are Kadlec, Trios Health, Lourdes Health and Prosser Memorial Health.

According to the statement, there is a nationwide shortage on supplies needed to collect samples from patients for testing, but labs are “doing their best to keep up with the demand.”

In the Tri-Cities area, it is currently taking anywhere from 5-7 days to receive results.

The current priority for testing is people who are most at risk and those suffering the most severe symptoms of COVID-19.

Here is a brief summary how the testing process works:

  • When a patient is experiencing respiratory illness symptoms, they are urged to call their provider to determine if any testing is required, whether they should be tested for COVID-19, or tested and treated for other infections such as influenza or pneumonia.
  • Only medical providers are able to order COVID-19 tests.
  •  If flu or other infections are ruled out, providers may then proceed to order a COVID-19
  • The medical provider will collect a specimen, which will then be sent to a state public
    health or FDA-approved lab for evaluation.
  • The testing lab sends the results to the medical provider and the Washington
    Department of Health (DOH).
  • The medical provider or clinical staff will contact the patient with test results.
  • DOH reports the results to the Benton-Franklin Health District (BFHD) through an online reporting system.
  • BFHD then notifies the public of test results (positive or negative)

“We recognize the limited availability of COVID-19 tests may cause concern. During this time, public health experts advise that people who are mildly sick with what could be COVID-19 should stay home and treat their symptoms. If symptoms worsen, call a provider for advice before going to a clinic or office. Tests need to be reserved for the sickest, high risk patients and medical professionals. A trip to the clinic or hospital could spread exposure,” the statement said.

Here’s what you can do if you’re experiencing only minor symptoms:

  • You can and should isolate at home during illness. Restrict outside activities, avoid
    public areas (work, school, etc.) and refrain from using public transportation.
  • Treat symptoms with rest, plenty of fluids and over-the-counter medications, as
  • Separate yourself as much as possible, staying in a separate room and using a separate
    bathroom, if available. Restrict your contact with pets and other animals.
  • Be alert to any changing symptoms and seek prompt medical attention if your
    symptoms are getting worse (e.g. difficulty breathing)

Below are links to our respective websites where you can get more information on COVID-19.

Community members are asked to stay home if they are ill unless they’re experiencing respiratory distress, chest pain or other sign of true emergency.