There is a very limited supply of test kits available, hospital administrator Stephanie Six said Tuesday, and the only people who will be tested are those who answer yes to the following questions:
Are you experiencing fever, a dry cough or shortness of breath?
Have you traveled out of state recently?
Have you been exposed to anyone diagnosed with the virus?
If the answer is yes, the test will be administered. The test consists of a swab of the nose and throat, similar to the test for flu or strep, said Dr. Jennifer Scoufos, the hospital’s chief of staff.
Scoufos urged anyone who is not showing symptoms to stay home. If anyone comes to get tested and are not experiencing the above symptoms they will be turned away.
The hospital has instituted strict screening policies to halt the virus’s spread, including temperature checks at the door and hand sanitizer at the ready. Anyone who leaves the hospital after being screened must be screened again if they come back in. The only doors open at the hospital are the main entrance and the emergency room entrance.
The Sequoyah County Health Department also began testing Tuesday but each person seeking a test must qualify and have a doctor's referral.
Scoufos noted that the hospital has an epidemiologist on call and she urged anyone suspecting they may have the virus to call the coronavirus hot line at (877) 215-8336.
“The key is prevention,” Scoufos said, adding, “Stay home and self-quarantine. The farther you travel (even out of the state), the higher the chance you will acquire the virus.”
Basically, Scoufos said, if you are not having trouble breathing, simply stay home.
There is no treatment for COVID-19, Scoufos said. Doctors urge patients to treat their symptoms by taking Tylenol (NOT Ibuprofen!), drinking plenty of fluids and taking cough and cold medication as needed.
“We’re doing an excellent job here,” Scoufos said, “Some people feel we’re doing too much, but no one will die if we are proactive. People WILL die if we don’t act now.”
There are now 10 positive cases of coronavirus in the state, Oklahoma Department of Health records show. No cases have been reported in Sequoyah County.
On Monday, the state health department authorized nursing homes, assisted living centers and similar facilities to restrict visitation as they deem necessary. This will allow the facilities to better protect their elderly residents, who are more susceptible to COVID-19.
Area nutrition centers have also closed their doors to in-person diners, instead setting up drive-through service to allow senior citizens to pick up their daily meals.
Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer
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