How many COVID-19 tests have local hospitals administered to patients?
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IDAHO FALLS — Each day more and more cases of coronavirus are reported in the Gem State.
And while that is indicative of the spread of the virus, it also means that more Idahoans are being tested for the virus.
But how many tests are being done? That’s one of the biggest questions EastIdahoNews.com receives about COVID-19.
At last count, there have been 1,650 people tested for coronavirus through the Idaho Bureau of Laboratories and 4,951 tests completed through commercial laboratories as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.
Of those, statewide only about 8 percent of those tested — 525 — have had the virus.
That doesn’t mean though that those are the only cases of COVID-19. Tests are only being given to people who have severe symptoms requiring hospitalization, or to people who have come into contact with a confirmed case.
EastIdahoNews.com has received a large amount of correspondence from people saying they are suffering from respiratory ailments, that could be coronavirus, but they are unable to get tested. In almost all of these cases, medical professionals are telling people that — even if they have COVID-19 — they don’t need to be tested, because most will recover on their own with no problem.
Additionally, the statistics show that most of the people getting tested do not have coronavirus.
As of Monday afternoon, Mountain View Hospital spokeswoman Natalie Podgorski said approximately 180 patients had been tested through the hospital’s drive-through clinic.
“All patients being tested will receive their results from their doctor,” she said.
Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center spokeswoman Coleen Niemann said as of Monday afternoon, EIRMC had tested 75 people. Results showed 55 negative cases and one positive in a male over the age of 60. He was hospitalized and later discharged. The hospital is waiting on the results of the remaining cases.
The total number of tests given between Mountain View and EIRMC was roughly 255 as of Monday.
Madison Memorial Hospital in Madison County had tested 127 people, spokesman Douglas McBride told EastIdahoNews.com Monday. So far, they had zero positive tests and 54 people were awaiting their results.
Of all of those tested in eastern Idaho, only 14 were confirmed positive for coronavirus as of Tuesday afternoon. Madison County has five confirmed cases, Jefferson County has three cases, while Bonneville and Teton counties each have two. Custer and Fremont each have one reported case, while Clark and Lemhi don’t have any, according to Eastern Idaho Public Health.
Portneuf Medical Center would not provide EastIdahoNews.com with an exact number of tests performed but a spokeswoman said their numbers are reported to the state and listed on the coronavirus website.
A spokesman for Bingham Memorial Hospital did not provide the number of tests performed but directed EastIdahoNews.com to Southeastern Idaho Public Health. A spokeswoman was not able to give a number performed by the hospital.
The Southeastern Idaho Public Health District, which includes Bannock, Bear Lake, Bingham, Butte, Caribou, Franklin, Oneida and Power Counties, has reported four positive coronavirus cases in Bannock County and two in Bingham County.
So far most of the cases in eastern Idaho have not been severe. Most people are recovering in their homes and did not require hospitalization. There have been nine deaths in Idaho related to coronavirus, but so far none have been in eastern Idaho.
“As we have watched the progression of this pandemic across the nation and Idaho, we knew that at some point we would experience community transmission. This is where the Governor’s Stay Home order really comes into play to help us slow the spread of COVID-19,” Eastern Idaho Public Health Director Geri Rackow said in a press release Monday. “If you have not been taking the matter seriously, now is the time to start. Staying home at the first sign of even the mildest of symptoms is going to help the disease from being spread to others.”
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare emphasizes that if you have had close contact with a person with COVID-19 or have recently traveled to an area with ongoing spread and you develop fever, cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider and ask for instructions about how to seek care.
The CDC doesn’t recommend testing people who do not have symptoms, or are not severely sick.
“Because of the limited number of tests, there is a need to preserve them for the sickest and those with the highest risk of infection,” The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare said on their website.
More information can be found at coronavirus.idaho.gov.