Testing for COVID-19 in green phase

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — With hundreds of COVID-19 infections reported every day in Pennsylvania, it is extremely important to find out where the virus exists and who is spreading it.

One of the keys to achieve that is to have ample testing available. Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre is just one of the COVID-19 testing sites available in northeastern and central Pennsylvania.

“I’m not sure that we need to be doing more testing. We need to be doing testing in the right people,” Myra Wilkerson, MD, Chairperson, Geisinger Diagnostic Medicine Institute, said.

It’s the testing that is seen as key to limiting novel coronavirus infections and keeping Pennsylvania open for business. Geisinger Health System reports it has the capacity to test up to 20,000 people per week.

“Anyone who has symptoms whether it’s coughing, shortness of breath, a temperature or any GI symptoms, diarrhea, they really need to go and consider being tested,” said Dr. Wilkerson.

But Dr. Wilkerson says testing should not be limited to just someone who suspects they have the virus.

“If a person is having symptoms and they get a test and a test is positive, it is extremely important to trace the people who they came in contact with over the last two weeks because you can go as long as two weeks without actually having symptoms but still be infecting people,” said Dr. Wilkerson.

Experts says one of the best ways to continue flattening the curve is to determine where the virus exists and who is doing the spreading.

While Dr. Wilkerson says 85 percent of people infected with COVID-19 have recovered, it’s the remaining 15 percent we all need to keep in mind.

“It is unpredictable and in the people that it affects, it affects them very fast and it can be terminal for them. So why take that risk at this point in time,” said Dr. Wilkerson.

Dr. Wilkerson says while many of us are taking the threat of COVID-19 seriously, many others are not. Geisinger labs are able to get COVID-19 test results back in 24 hours, and usually less than 10 hours in emergency departments such as this site. Sites that require out of state lab testing usually take two to seven days.

Meanwhile, Dr. Wilkerson urges us to keep up our vigilance and wear masks, wash our hands frequently and maintain social distancing until a vaccine or an effective drug is developed to combat COVID-19.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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