Joshua Morrison/News Knox Public Health’s Carol Green, left, takes a nasal swab from Jenny Briggs during the drive-thru COVID-19 testing Wednesday. KPH tested 72 people.

Joshua Morrison/Mount Vernon News

Knox Public Health’s Carol Green, left, takes a nasal swab from Jenny Briggs during the drive-thru COVID-19 testing Wednesday. KPH tested 72 people. Request this photo

 

MOUNT VERNON — Knox County’s first drive-thru community testing for the COVID-19 virus started Wednesday, about two months after Knox Public Health Commissioner Julie Miller said she would have liked it to start. But it’s better late than never.

 

CORONAVIRUS LINKS

Local COVID-19 Call Center

Open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to Noon

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A total of 72 people received the nasal swab specimen collection procedure Wednesday, with samples sent to the Ohio Department of Health and LabCorp. The free testing began at 9 a.m., with those tested driving around the back of the Knox Public Health (KPH) building to a check-in station for a bit of paperwork, and then on to the testing area.

Four persons in each car were tested every 15 minutes, or up to 16 per hour. Miller said it was going so well during her Facebook Live health update at noon that the entire procedure got each car through in less than five minutes. Those awaiting results will get them back within 48 to 72 hours.

“It’s been real easy,” Miller said during her Facebook Live health update. “I’ve been real impressed.”

There was also plenty of room left for people who wish to be tested, as 50 signed up for Thursday and another 25 for Friday. In total, nearly 150 people have signed up with KPH prepared to test as many as 300 people over the three-day period. Miller said anyone wishing to be tested can sign up by calling 740-399-8014.

The specimen collection for COVID-19 testing is not as uncomfortable a procedure as some may think. Four KPH registered nurses used swabs the size of an ordinary Q Tip. The first nurse to do so Wednesday morning was RN Carol Green. Just three little swirls in each nostril are all it took from each subject, who needed to do little more than roll down their car windows. Each drove off with a gift bag including a free cloth mask and a pen.

“Everybody seems to be handling it well, aside from the apprehension of it being a painful thing,” Green said. “I keep reiterating to them that it feels like a little bug crawling up your nose for a few seconds.”

Green and fellow nurse Jessica Parker, RN, were the first two nurses to administer the nasal swabs, with fellow nurses Natasha Lester and Jenn Bohman assisting. In the afternoon, the pairs switched duties. They were supervised by Lisa Dudgeon, RN, who is the KPH communicable disease nurse.

Knox County has been fortunate with just 25 positive COVID-19 cases, the same number as last week, Miller said. That is even though the number of persons tested has increased markedly, from about 350 a little more than a week ago to 637 as of Wednesday morning.

Part of that jump has to do with the fact that, through an order by Gov. Mike DeWine and ODH Director Amy Acton, it was considered essential that employees and clients of long-term care facilities be tested due to their vulnerability to the virus. The two ordered the testing of Ohio’s eight-state developmental centers May 26, and called upon the Ohio Army National Guard to conduct the testing due to its high number of well-trained medical personnel who can move rapidly to make it happen.

Testing began May 27 and impacted the Mount Vernon Developmental Center, where 224 of 230 employees were tested. All of those tested were negative for the coronavirus, KPH spokesperson Pam Palm said. Of the 224, 170 were Knox County residents with 54 from outside Knox County. Palm added she was unsure why six employees were not tested. A message was left Wednesday for MVDC, which was not returned.

Of 65 MVDC residents, 62 tested negative, with three untested, Palm said, adding, “again, no reason was given for those who were not tested. However, it could have been for a variety of legit reasons including medical or behavioral situations.” Palm also noted MVDC was only one of two state developmental centers with no positive cases.

Joshua Morrison/News Knox Public Health’s Jenn Bohman prepares to administer a nasal swab during the drive-thru testing for COVID-19 Wednesday. KPH tested 72 people.

Joshua Morrison/Mount Vernon News

Knox Public Health’s Jenn Bohman prepares to administer a nasal swab during the drive-thru testing for COVID-19 Wednesday. Request this photo

 

While KPH community testing was available to anyone who believes they may be experiencing coronavirus symptoms like fever and shortness of breath — or believes they may have been exposed to someone who has or may have the virus — Dudgeon said many of those tested are likely seeking peace of mind to know they are virus-free. Testing would reveal those who carry COVID-19 yet show no symptoms, known as asymptomatic carriers. Many people with underlying health conditions, such as asthma, may feel they are more at risk for the virus and wish to be tested, as are those who are ages 60 and over and also more vulnerable to COVID-19 complications requiring hospitalization.

Palm said among those who signed up for testing was a married couple who were in Florida for a time, a state which has had “hot zones” of infection. Anyone who has traveled abroad may also wish to be tested. Palm said those from outside Knox County could also be tested but would need to sign up by calling the county hotline.

Miller said some of the funding KPH has received from the federal government through the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act could be used soon to conduct rapid response testing. One of the rapid response tests is an antigen test that could determine, through evidence of virus fragments found within testing samples, whether someone has COVID-19. The test can make that determination within a matter of minutes. The US Food and Drug Administration approved the first emergency use of a rapid-response antigen test last month.

Miller has said she is far less receptive to the idea of an antibody test, which is intended to determine whether individuals have developed an adaptive immune response to COVID-19. She said such tests are thus far too unreliable in that they have been known to produce false-positive results, and even false-negative results.

Those who test positive for COVID-19 are asked to avoid contact with others and self-isolate for two weeks. The isolation includes avoiding public settings like shopping centers and grocery stores as well as public transportation. Once symptoms clear, those who were positive may return to work and receive a letter to that effect from KPH if needed.

About 17 percent of Ohioans who have tested positive for COVID-19 have been hospitalized.

Knox County COVID-19 Positive Cases

Results Age Gender Tested in Details Current Status
3/20 28 Female Franklin Works in Franklin County; Not Hospitalized Recovered
3/23 71 Male Knox Traveled from Florida; Hospitalized at KCH Recovered
3/29 38 Male Licking Works in Franklin County Recovered
3/30 72 Female Franklin Hospitalized at KCH Recovered
4/1 90 Male Florida Hospitalized in Florida Deceased
4/4 42 Male Knox Not Hospitalized Recovered
4/5 72 Female Knox Exposed to a confirmed case in another county Recovered
4/8 28 Male Knox Works in Marion County; Not hospitalized Recovered
4/10 77 Female Knox No Known Exposure Recovered
4/12 22 Female Knox Works in Knox and Franklin County Recovered
4/15 54 Male Knox Works in Marion County Recovered
4/19 37 Female Knox Works in Richland County Recovered
4/21 39 Male Knox Exposure to another confirmed case Recovered
4/22 54 Male Knox Works in Knox County Recovered
4/23 45 Male Knox Healthcare worker in Marion County Recovered
4/29 79 Female Knox Recently returned from Florida Recovered
5/1 58 Male Franklin Works in Franklin County Recovered
5/1 32 Male Knox Works in Franklin County Recovered
5/3 30 Female Knox Works in Licking County Recovered
5/6 56 Female Knox Healthcare worker in Mahoning and Knox County Recovered
5/15 56 Female Franklin Healthcare worker in Franklin County Recovered
5/17 2 Male Franklin Tested at Children’s Hospital; Exposed to positive case Recovered
5/18 53 Male Knox Works in Marion County Recovered
5/28 29 Female Knox Exposed to a positive case Home Isolation
5/29 63 Male Knox Works in Union County Home Isolation

SOURCE:Knox Public Health June 4, 2020 @ 10:00 a.m.

 

Larry Di Giovanni: 740-397-5333 or larry@mountvernonnews.com and on Twitter, @mountvernonnews