U.S. hospitals still have limited COVID-19 testing capabilities


NASHVILLE, Tn. (WKRN) – Doctors say they think it’s amazing that we even have a test for the novel coronavirus considering we’ve only known about it for a few months now, but as it continues to spread in the United States, they say it hasn’t been enough time to allow for mass testing.

“We’ve seen a lot of anxiety about this, and a lot of people that are worried based on their symptoms,” said Infectious Disease Doctor Juli Horton with TriStar Centennial.

They’re symptoms that sometimes don’t show for days or weeks, but right now, that’s all many doctors have to diagnose COVID-19 as they wait for more testing capabilities.

“We do not have testing available for mass testing at this point, we are following CDC guidelines to target individuals with the highest risk of disease based on symptoms or travel history and then other medical conditions that may lead to a more severe case,” said Dr. Martin Chaney with the Maury Regional Medical Group.

“Our testing is still going through the state health department, who have been great,” Horton explained, “But they have had limited testing and limited testing capability and have generally tried to limit tests to those that are seriously ill.”

Seriously ill-meaning tight chest, difficulty breathing, or pneumonia.

“While we want rapid testing, we’re used to going and our doctor does a swab and tells us whether we have influenza at the time of that visit, this testing has not evolved to that point where we can get rapid diagnostics,” Horton said.

In Tennessee, where there are now 32 cases, “Governor Bill Lee declared a state of emergency Thursday to allow for more funding toward testing and fighting the spread.

President Donald Trump declared a national emergency Friday.

“There’s certainly a consortium within the city that is working on that as we speak, but many emergency departments don’t have that capability at this point,” Horton said, “It’s a very fluid situation. There have been private companies now in addition to the health department that has testing capabilities, so we’re hopeful that we can get a test performed.”

Most hospitals are capable of testing, and according to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, hundreds of people have been tested in Tennessee, doctors are hoping to have greater testing capabilities within days to a week.

If you have milder symptoms, they ask that you stay home, take over the counter medications, and rest. Keep in mind– most people do overcome the virus.

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