Covid testing currently occurs for three groups of people. Dr. Lizotte explains what these groups are and how we are handling each of them in the Big Timber Community.
A message from Dr. Michelle Lizotte:
There have been a lot of questions and confusion around COVID-19 testing. Right now there are three categories of individuals that are receiving testing: Asymptomatic, Symptomatic, and those for contact tracing.
Symptomatic: Patients who are experiencing symptoms that have been identified as being consistent with COVID-19 such as shortness of breath, cough, fever, loss of smell and/or taste, etc.
Contact tracing: Those contacted by the Department of Public Health as having a known exposure to an individual that has tested positive for COVID-19.
Asymptomatic: Those individuals that have no symptoms and have no known exposure to positive individuals.
Asymptomatic testing in this community is currently being done by the Department of Public Health (such as the recent community drive held on 7/9/2020) and PMC is conducting the testing for symptomatic individuals and those identified by contact tracing. We have no control over the time that it takes to get these results back. Right now we are seeing on average a 3-5 day turnaround for those with symptoms and for contact tracing and asymptomatic results a turnaround of 10-14 days. This is subject to change based on the ability of the state to run these tests. The Department of Public Health will be conducting additional test drives in the future and those will be announced to the community.
The point of asymptomatic testing is to perform surveillance and try and determine the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community to direct response efforts. This is similar to screening for conditions such as cervical cancer and colon cancer. A person may be overall healthy and have no symptoms but on screening are found to have cancer. These individuals are considered asymptomatic.
Again this is an ever changing public health situation and we are addressing things as timely and consistently as we can. We ask for patience and understanding at this time. If you have questions please contact PMC at (406) 932-4603 or (406) 932-4199 and we will answer them to the best of our ability.
Stay safe and please continue to practice social distancing, frequent hand washing, and mask wearing to help keep yourself and our community safe.