Virginia addresses COVID-19 testing kit shortage, hopes to ramp up testing

Virginia addresses COVID-19 testing kit shortage, hopes to ramp up testing

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - More COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites are popping up in Central Virginia.

Friday, Chesterfield County Health District workers tested about 150 people who were pre-registered, pre-screened and showed symptoms of the virus.

"Samples are collected and then taken to a laboratory for processing," said Dr. Alexander Samuel, Chesterfield Health District Director. "It gives us a better understanding of the presence of COVID-19 in our communities."

Chesterfield health officials said they had limited screening due to a shortage of COVID-19 test kits. State health officials are acknowledging the same issue.

"That’s still not enough tests for us to do massive screening. We have to have some criteria to screen patients before testing otherwise those 1,000 tests will be used up quite rapidly,” said Dr. Norm Oliver, Virginia Health Commissioner.

Friday, Governor Ralph Northam and his COVID-19 response team said the state is issuing new testing criteria to help get more people in long-term care facilities tested.

“It’s very clear our most vulnerable populations as we’ve said are the elderly and particularly elderly who are in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities and so on,” said Dr. Oliver.

The state has received 200,000 medical face masks. Gowns, gloves and other protective equipment have arrived as well. The state is issuing them to first responders and hospitals in the state. Dr. Oliver issued a sobering warning as we head into the weekend.

“We do not have a vaccine for COVID-19. The only thing we have to prevent the spread of this disease is social distancing,” said Dr. Oliver.

The state testing lab is actively training its employees to perform the COVID-19 tests. Health officials say that will expand capacity as the state hopes to ramp up testing.

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