California Increases COVID-19 Testing, Doctor Responds to their Accuracy
Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing has become a valuable resource to understanding the severity of the pandemic.
“Testing can help identify people who have the coronavirus and identify the hotspot areas where the disease is prevalent so that resources can be channeled,” infectious disease epidemiologist at Incode Technologies, Dr. Wilson O. Iyokho told Scriberr News.
On July 14, California announced new plans for COVID-19 testing with further testing prioritizing high-risk individuals.
“Testing is a critical tool that helps us diagnose and treat those who become infected by COVID-19. Testing also helps us understand how COVID-19 moves through our communities so we can identify areas where transmission is occurring,” California Secretary of Health and Human Service Agency, Dr. Ghaly announced.
According to the California Department of Public Health, Latinos are the hardest hit by the coronavirus, with 125,858 number of cases.
Nationwide, African Americans account for 23% of deaths related to COVID-19, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
“Lack of housing, because the majority of these folks congregate in a very tight environment, and the virus spreads rapidly, “ Iyokho said.
Dr. Iyokho said other factors, such as previous underlying medical conditions, documentation, and socioeconomics account for the positive results within minority communities.
LabCorp is one laboratory providing COVID-19 testing throughout the U.S, performing over 7 million molecular tests since March. They have more than 30 locations operating in the country.
“We are performing COVID-19 molecular and antibody testing in multiple laboratories, using a range of test platforms, to maintain flexibility to meet particular needs,” a spokesperson for LabCorp told Scriberr News.
There has been an increased demand for more testing kits as California’s cases continue to rise.
As of July 14, there has been a 2.1% increase in daily testing, and within the last two weeks, the average daily new tests reported are 108,409, according to the California COVID-19 Statewide Update.
Within the past 14 days as of July 16, there has been a 46.8% increase in cases, leaving California with 356,178 positive cases in total.
“With significant increases in testing demand and constraints in the availability of supplies and equipment, the average time to deliver results may now be 4-6 days from specimen pickup,” LabCorp said.
Moreover, hospitalized individuals typically will receive their results quicker.
Allowing private practices to conduct COVID-19 testing can make the process move a bit quicker, Dr. Iyokho explained.
“In New York City, we have testing centers in every corner, you just go there and get tested, they don’t ask for insurance or any documentation,” Dr. Iyokho said.
New York, once the epicenter of the pandemic, now has drastically decreased their number with 84 cases as of July 14 with 2% positive results.
The American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA) is a not-for-profit organization that helps provide commercial laboratories with supplies and equipment, including LabCorp.
“While our members are collectively performing hundreds of thousands of tests each day, the anticipated demand for COVID-19 testing over the coming weeks will likely exceed members’ testing capacities. This significant increase in demand could extend turnaround times for test results,” the ACLA stated on June 23.
The demand for testing continues to increase throughout the United States, with the country leading the world in the number of individuals being tested, according to John Hopkins University and Medicine.
“However, there is no expert consensus on a recommended target for the raw number of tests or even the rate of tests per capita – and the graph above demonstrates why using these statistics alone can be misleading,” according to John Hopkins University and Medicine.
John Hopkins University and Medicine also recommend the testing should be scaled to the size of the epidemic, not the population.
“A high rate of positive tests indicates a government is only testing the sickest patients who seek out medical attention and is not casting a wide enough net,” according to data from John Hopkins University and Medicine.
On July 14, the Trump administration announced increased COVID-19 testing in nursing homes.
“Through this crucial action, nursing homes will be able to augment their current capacity for coronavirus testing, bolstering their response and helping to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19,” the U.S Department of Health and Human Services website read.
Accuracy of the test depends on which test is used, the type of specimen tested, how it was collected, and the duration of illness, according to Penn Medicine.
“Of course it is accurate, without false positive or false negative, meaning when someone tests positive but is negative and when someone tests negative but is positive, but that is something that is not common,” Dr. Iyokho said.
LabCorp said a positive result is definitive evidence of the virus.
“As with any test, the accuracy relies on many factors, including if the specimen we receive was collected properly, sent promptly, and packaged correctly. Test results are a critical part of any diagnosis, but must be used by the clinician along with other information to form a diagnosis,” LabCorp said.
LabCorp and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) have worked together to create an at-home COVID-19 test kit.
In April, LabCorp released an at-home COVID-19 test that includes a Q-tip style cotton swab.
“It is important to note that this is not a general authorization for at-home collection of patient samples using other collection swabs, media, or tests, or for tests fully conducted at home,” according to the FDA.
Testing proceeds to be the main source to identify case numbers and hotspots throughout the country.