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19:05 PM

NBC4: COVID-19 Testing Capabilities

TV4 4P Fight Infect Disease 3.20.20

It's one of the most common questions in the country right now - can I get a COVID-19 test?  Health systems nationwide have a limited number of tests they are able to provide each day.  And once the test sample is obtained from the patient, there's a process it must go through.  Currently, it's taking patients up to five days to get their test results back.

"When it comes to testing capabilities, we are still struggling with appropriately getting tests back," said Joseph Gastaldo, MD, OhioHealth system medical director, infectious diseases, in a March 20 interview with NBC4. "For example when a test is obtained from a patient, the test has to be sent to the lab...and the labs are getting inundated with tests from various parts of the country.

Dr. Gastaldo told NBC4 that once testing improves, we'll learn more about how many people actually have COVID-19.

"Once we have the capability to do much more testing, we'll get an idea of how many people truly have it and how many people are being hospitalized, so we can beging to determine what the curve is," he said.  "Testing is of paramount importance.  Limited testing capabilities don't allow us to define that curve.  And I think the biggest challenge we have moving forward is testing."

With more testing, will likely come more diagnosed COVID-19 patients.  Dr. Gastaldo says OhioHealth is ready.

"Within OhioHealth, I feel very confident with the infrastructure we have in place when it comes to handling a surge of patients," he said. "We have a very robust command center looking at everything, like our daily critical supplies for patient care.  We're ready at OhioHealth.  We just need to get a better idea of what the testing curve looks like."