City of Alexandria Provides Support for Expanded COVID-19 Testing
For Immediate Release: April 17, 2020
In addition to the many health care providers who already offer COVID-19 screening and testing in Alexandria, the City of Alexandria is providing support for recently expanded screening and testing by Inova Health System and Neighborhood Health. The City and the Alexandria Health Department have also produced an infographic to explain the testing process.
All patients in Alexandria have access to testing if needed. Testing criteria are established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Virginia Department of Health, and will expand in the future as testing capacity increases. As of April 16, results have been reported for 1,403 Alexandria residents who have been tested. Of these, 321 or 22.9% have been positive for the virus. Of the positive cases, 36 (11.2%) have required hospitalization and 7 (2.2%) have died.
Who Needs a Test?
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever of 100°F or higher, cough, or shortness of breath. Generally, individuals with mild or no symptoms do not need to be screened or tested. Most people who get COVID-19 recover on their own at home and do not need testing or treatment. Anyone with symptoms of respiratory illness should isolate themselves at home; avoid contact with other people; wash their hands frequently; and disinfect surfaces regularly. Since some people have COVID-19 without symptoms, everyone should stay home except for essential trips, regardless of whether they have been tested.
Anyone with severe symptoms should seek screening and possible testing, along with anyone with mild symptoms who is also over 65 years old, is pregnant, has a serious medical condition, or is in another high-risk category for serious complications from COVID-19. All testing sites require screening and most require appointments (including all sites that offer vehicle-side service).
Anyone with chest pain or trouble breathing should call or text 911. Otherwise, an individual seeking care should call their doctor if they have one, or consult a list of resources for patients without a primary care physician or health insurance (also available in Spanish, Amharic and Arabic). The doctor will make an appointment for screening in person or online. To protect others, do not visit a doctor without calling ahead.
How Do Patients Get Tested if Needed?
If an individual is screened online and needs a test, the doctor will schedule an appointment or refer the patient to one of many testing sites in Alexandria or the region. If an individual is screened in person and the doctor determines a test is needed, the doctor will collect a test sample on the spot if they are equipped as a testing site, or they will refer the patient to a testing site. The Alexandria Health Department does not provide COVID-19 diagnosis or testing.
A test sample will be collected by health care workers wearing personal protective equipment like goggles, masks or respirators, gowns and gloves. The sample will be collected by swabbing the patient’s nose or mouth, and the swab will be sealed and sent to a laboratory for testing. The patient will be notified of the test results once the laboratory completes the test. If the test is positive for COVID-19, the patient will be given further guidance to protect themselves and others and to identify any potential close contacts.
Recently Expanded Testing Capacity
Inova Health System has established four Respiratory Illness Clinics to provide screening and testing for COVID-19 for patients who meet testing criteria. The Alexandria clinic is located in Old Town and offers screening and testing inside the clinic for new or existing Inova patients who make appointments by calling 703.683.7220. Inova’s three other Respiratory Illness Clinics (Dulles South, North Arlington, and Tysons) offer walk-in respiratory evaluations for those with symptoms of COVID-19 and testing for patients who meet criteria. All four Respiratory Illness Clinics offer vehicle-side testing for patients whose doctors have already screened them and made testing appointments for them. Any health care provider may refer a patient to any Respiratory Illness Clinic if the provider is not equipped to do testing. All Inova sites screen patients before testing and use the same testing criteria and protocols, and all vehicle-side testing locations require an appointment made for the patient by a doctor.
Neighborhood Health, a nonprofit community health center serving approximately 8,500 low-income Alexandria residents, is conducting COVID-19 screening and testing for its patients. Patients who need evaluation should call 703.535.5568 for a phone or video appointment with a provider. The provider will order a test if indicated and schedule it to be conducted at an outdoor testing location in Alexandria or Fairfax County. Neighborhood Health has recently set up testing sites in the Arlandria and West End areas of Alexandria. All Neighborhood Health sites require appointments; walk-ins are not accepted.
The City is assisting Inova and Neighborhood Health by providing logistics support at vehicle-side testing sites, including communications, signage, traffic and parking control, and law enforcement. The Alexandria Health Department works closely with these and all other health care providers to give guidance and consultation on testing criteria, use of personal protective equipment, and other needs.
For more information about the COVID-19 coronavirus and how you can help protect yourself and those around you, visit alexandriava.gov/Coronavirus. For questions about COVID-19, call the Alexandria COVID-19 Hotline at 703.746.4988, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. If you have chest pain or shortness of breath, call or text 911.
For inquiries from the news media only, contact Craig Fifer, Director of Communications and Public Information, at email@example.com or 703.746.3965.
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This news release is available at alexandriava.gov/114840.