I-TEAM: Help couldn't come any sooner for GA health providers as Kemp expands state testing for coronavirus

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Thursday, March 12, 2020
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

(Source: WRDW)

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Help couldn't come any sooner for Georgia's health care providers, including ones here.

Gov. Brian Kemp announced Thursday that the state is expanding testing for the virus.

We spoke with a very concerned provider in our area. She asked us to disguise her voice because she fears she could lose her job by speaking out.

It all started on Jan. 21 with the first case of COVID-19 in the United States. Just 42 days later, the first case in Georgia was identified. Now, 10 days later, we have 12 confirmed cases in Georgia and six in South Carolina.

“Most people with the virus don’t even know they have the virus,” the provider said.

Just this week, the provider requested a COVID-19 test for a patient.

"So I had a patient who had similar symptoms – cough, shortness of breath, and fever. Negative flu test, and you would think with those symptoms what else could it be?” the provider said.

"But according to CDC guidelines and Department of Health guidelines, she was did not qualify for testing.”

Those guidelines are: the patient has been around someone with a confirmed case or traveled to a high-risk country or a health care worker.

The patient told her she had been around someone who recently traveled to Fulton County where there are confirmed cases. She still didn't qualify. The medical providers says she knows the risk may be low, but knowing would give her and others peace of mind.

But real answers came Thursday afternoon with Kemp's news conference.

Georgia health leaders announced the CDC has relaxed testing guidelines, which allows physicians to do the tests themselves.

"This means most doctors offices can take these tests, which will be simple to do. It will be as simple as taking a flu test or viral panel and these can be sent to LabCorp, which is now functioning," officials said.

The news is a giant relief, but there are still many other concerns from health care providers.

Georgia's Department of Public Health is adding two additional pieces of equipment by Monday. They say it will increase the state's testing capacity from 50 a day to 100 a day.

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