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Mohave County receives a coronavirus rapid testing machine

Denise Burley, Mohave County’s public health director, told the county board of supervisors on Monday, April 27 that the county has received a rapid testing machine for COVID-19 from the Arizona Department of Health Services. (Miner file photo)

Denise Burley, Mohave County’s public health director, told the county board of supervisors on Monday, April 27 that the county has received a rapid testing machine for COVID-19 from the Arizona Department of Health Services. (Miner file photo)

KINGMAN – The Arizona Department of Health Services is sending Mohave County a rapid testing machine, Public Health Director Denise Burley announced at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday, April 27.

The problem is, the machine is coming with just 24 testing kits and no immediate prospect for more.

“We have put a request in for more, of course,” Burley said, “but they are not available at this time and ADHS doesn’t know when they will be available.”

To make things even trickier, each time the machine is moved two tests need to be performed to ensure it is correctly calibrated, reducing the available pool of testing kits even further.

That means, it would be good to find a permanent location for the machine.

“We have to make sure we use this machine wisely, Burley said. “For now the plan is we will keep it in our facility. The staff will receive training on how to use it, and we will work with other agencies to decide who needs testing.”

One of the immediate priorities, Burley said, is to start testing groups of people in long-term care facilities.

The specimens, gathered on nasal swabs, could be brought to the Public Health building and put into the machine.

“You can know the result in 13 minutes or less,” Burley said. However, she noted the test might not work in the first days of the infection, with some patients not “shedding” the virus until two weeks later.

Rapid testing kits are not easy to acquire and are more expensive than regular diagnostic tests. The chain of supply for regular tests is improving though, Burley said, and no local hospital reported a shortage of testing kits to the health department.

Burley told the supervisors she was still not able to provide the number of tests being conducted in each hospital in Mohave County, but will be able to put those numbers together soon.

All major county health facilities seem to test all patients and health care workers with symptoms, Burley said.

She added there is still not enough testing available to test asymptomatic contacts of existing cases and asymptomatic essential workers.

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