Mohave County is still officially virus-free, but more testing is needed
KINGMAN – There are still no lab-confirmed coronavirus cases in Mohave County, and the Kingman patient with the inconclusive test announced last week is still awaiting results of additional testing.
“When the test is inconclusive, they do some additional testing,” explained Kingman Regional Medical Center CEO Brian Turney during a press conference on Monday, March 23 at the County Administration Building. Typically, lab the results come back in three to four days, but with the situation, it is taking longer, he said.
“We try to do what we can,” he said, but added local hospitals are “a little frustrated” with the lack of testing capabilities.
“The time (it takes) to get those tests back is a challenge,” Turney said, noting the current waiting period is five to eight days. KRMC is working on arrangements to speed up the process to two days.
Mass-testing is impossible at the moment, even though a new test by a biotechnology company, Cepheid, was just approved. The test returns results in around 45 minutes and does not need to be processed in a lab.
KRMC would be ready to start drive-thru testing immediately but at the moment tests are being shipped to places like Los Angeles and New York, the current U.S. epicenters.
“It will be three weeks before we can get the materials” to conduct mass testing, Turney said.
As of Monday, March 23, KRMC had conducted 101 coronavirus tests. Results from 66 of those tests are still pending, 34 came back negative, and one came back inconclusive.
But, Turney said, they are only testing patients with severe symptoms like fever and persistent cough. He said it is safe to assume that the virus is already in the community.
The Mohave County Health Department has initiated 15 tests, which were sent to the Arizona state laboratory. But it is not clear at the moment how many commercial tests have been conducted by private labs in the county. The department is working on getting this information and remains the hub for all information about test results. The county’s four hospitals check in daily with the department.
In the meantime, Turney advised residents to do whatever they can to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
“Most of it can be handled if people just act appropriately. This is a team sport,” he said, emphasizing the role the community can play through social distancing and other measures.
“The situation requires a community response,” said Mohave County Health Director Denise Burley. She said the Kingman community is especially vulnerable due to age of the population and the prevalence of other risk factors.
“We have one of the highest risk (counties) in the country,” she said. “It is important for people to take it seriously because once it spreads, it starts moving rapidly.”
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