Testing and Positive Report FAQs
Posted on 03/09/2020

What will happen when we get a positive case of COVID-19 in Benton or Franklin Counties?

When we get our first presumptive positive, BFHD will post on our website on the Investigations and Outbreaks page and update our news blog at the bottom of the front page; notify the media via news release and set up a media briefing as quickly as possible; notify healthcare providers; and post on social media

Will there be a list of exposure locations if we get a positive case in Benton or Franklin Counties?

Coronaviruses like COVID-19 spread primarily among close contacts. They are spread through respiratory droplets when people cough or sneeze, or by touching a surface where the virus has been and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. This is different from an airborne virus like measles, where we would release locations of general exposure.

If a case is confirmed or presumed positive in someone at a school, workplace or other facility, there may be additional communications from the affected facility to notify students, staff and families. The Health District is coordinating with local partners to provide information and guidance.

Shouldn’t we be testing more people?

While testing capacity for COVID-19 has improved since the Public Health Laboratories in Shoreline began testing late last week, the capacity is not infinite. Tests need to be prioritized for those who are severely ill or part of a public health investigation.

It is important that people who are not ill do not go to a clinic or hospital seeking coronavirus testing. If you are ill and believe you may have been exposed to coronavirus, call ahead to your medical provider before coming in.

People who are ill only with mild symptoms also should not immediately go to a clinic, hospital or the Health District seeking coronavirus testing. Doing so displaces other patients who truly need urgent care and increases the risk of spread of respiratory infections in health care settings. Furthermore, there is little personal health value in pursuing COVID-19 testing of patients who are not severely ill or part of a public health investigation. 

Why isn’t the Health District testing people?

BFHD is not a clinical provider and will not be offering testing for COVID-19. The Health District’s role is to assure clinical partners are getting the support they need. It is critical that people who have symptoms or desire testing be working with a medical provider to evaluate their symptoms and risk of exposure to identify if testing is appropriate.

Where can I get tested? I’ve heard there are enough test kits for everyone?

The “test kits” referred to in the media are not sample collection kits. The test kits are the materials required to conduct the test by a qualified laboratory. Samples can be taken by a medical provider using typical supplies used for any oropharyngeal or nasopharyngeal swab. The medical providers collecting the samples must be working with a laboratory who can process the samples.  COVID-19 testing is now available through LabCorp and University of Washington Clinical Lab without health department approval.  Testing provided by the DOH lab in Shoreline will still require the patient to meet established criteria and approval by the health district.