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Health department explains how testing works for COVID-19

The North Central Health District explained how they are collecting coronavirus numbers here in Central Georgia.

MACON, Ga. — Health care specialists with the North Central Health District are testing patients showing signs of the coronavirus at testing sites. 

"If the person is not symptomatic at the time, we're testing them, the viral load may be too low and we may not get accurate results once the testing is completed," says Heather Holloway, a nurse with the North Central Health District. 

Right now, local health departments are targeting specific people across state.

"We're looking first and foremost to our healthcare workers and first responders, those that are of advanced age, that have co-morbidities that make them more immune-compromised, more susceptible to COVID-19, those that are caring for individuals that are immune-compromised, and those that are in congregate settings that could be easily spread among the group that they live in."

The North Central Health District says a person showing signs of COVID-19 should first see their primary care doctor. The doctor puts the patient into a system creating a "person under investigation" ID number. 

Then, the patient is contacted for an appointment at the testing site. Nurses come outside to meet patients and collect a sample. 

"The patient can sneeze or cough. Our nurses are donning face masks, goggles, N95 respirators, gowns, and gloves."

While local health departments are working to determine accurate numbers of COVID-19 cases, testing is limited to certain groups like the elderly or people with compromised immune systems.

"Testing is limited across the state and nationwide because we are all testing and we all are looking for those cases and to identify those cases in our own communities."

Now, you won't get the results right away after being tested. Once the local department of health gets the results back, a public health rep will contact you, and then walk you through the next steps if you are positive. 

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