Testing, testing, testing. The words once reserved for mic checks at events without a care about social distancing have become a mantra of a completely different sort.
As COVID-19 sweeps across the globe, scientists and health care professionals agree that increased testing is key to reining in the spread of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Of course, we’re all invested in global and national updates. However, most folks really want to know what’s going on in their neighborhood. Well, here’s an update on both fronts.
About a month ago Lifestyle Frisco ran an article about Raj Chhadua, a local pharmacist and managing partner of ReNueRx Pharmacy. The company donated compounded hand sanitizer to first responders at the Frisco and Plano Fire Departments. Raj and his team have been busy again. On May 12, ReNueRx began to offer free COVID-19 testing.
National Testing Efforts
This is part of a national testing push led by eTrueNorth, a U.S.-based healthcare technology company that enables laboratory testing at retail pharmacies. They’ve coordinated more than 7,500 pharmacies across the nation in a massive drive-through testing program.
In addition to chains like Walmart, Kroger, and McKesson’s Health Mart, select local pharmacies will have tests. This project also receives funding from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Potential partner pharmacies have to meet specific criteria to participate in this public-private partnership:
- They must be CLIA-waived – CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improved Amendments) regulations under the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) establish quality standards for certain lab tests. Waivers for some types of testing are granted through an application process.
- They must pass the application process. ReNueRx is the Texas local pharmacy sample collection site, as selected by HHS.
eTrueNorth offers an innovative voucher model that lends itself to effective, contactless testing. So, they are combining their technology infrastructure and their national reach to increase testing levels across the U.S.
Who Gets a Free Test?
Which brings us back to Raj. ReNueRx may test up to fifty people a day. But, the actual number can vary, as test quantities are determined by eTrueNorth. At the time of this writing, testing is available to many symptomatic people, first responders and healthcare workers, and select other people who meet state guidelines. Go to doineedacovid19test.com for information, screening questions, and next steps.
If you have the following symptoms, the site instructs you to call 9-1-1 or your healthcare provider immediately:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
Keep yourself current by visiting the CDC website.
How Does Contactless COVID-19 Testing Work?
Actually, it’s pretty straight forward. Go to the site, then select your state and choose a convenient test location. Once you’ve done that, you’ll create an account and answer the screening questions. Then, if you meet the criteria, you’ll get a time for your test and a voucher to print and present at the testing site.
You’ll be contacted on the morning of your test. Also remember, you will not get a test without the voucher.
Next, go to the test location at the scheduled time and remain in your car. You will get testing supplies and use the provided swab to collect the sample. Then, in about 48 hours, you can log back into the same site to get your results and follow up instructions.
These tests are FDA-authorized under the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and are part of a national mobilization to increase testing. Raj explains,
If we want to open up the state and get people back to work, we need to increase testing. We’re just doing our part to help make that happen.
Keep Up the Good Work
We’re still in a global fight to control the spread while also identifying existing cases. As localities experiment with opening businesses and easing restrictions, we can all do our part to keep ourselves and the vulnerable in our community safe. City of Frisco updates on confirmed cases, deaths, healthcare resources, and ordinance updates are available online.
In the meantime, keep washing your hands, maintain social distance, wear masks and gloves (if you choose) in public spaces, and use common sense to protect yourself and those you love. After all, the phrase “we’re all in this together” has never been truer.
As we test for this virus more aggressively and test our resolve to keep the spread under control, we move closer to the day when “testing” is once, again, the sound from that mic check at events we share as a community.