The Alabama Department of Public Health Bureau of Clinical Laboratories has expanded the criteria to test for COVID-19 to add testing for certain asymptomatic, high-risk groups and individuals.
By widening the conditions to test high-risk people before symptoms appear, the risk of continued transmission of the virus is lessened and timely case investigations and contact tracing can begin earlier. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made these recommendations.
Symptoms of COVID-19 consist of either cough or shortness of breath (difficulty breathing) or at least two of the following: fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell.
New testing criteria are as follows:
The patient is a resident (includes symptomatic and asymptomatic) of a long-term care facility and the facility has laboratory-confirmed cases in residents or staff, or are
· Hospitalized patients with symptoms
· Healthcare facility workers, workers in congregate living settings, and first responders with symptoms
· Residents in long-term care facilities or other congregate living settings, including correctional and detention facilities and shelters, with symptoms
· Persons without symptoms who have underlying medical conditions or disability placing them at a higher risk of complications, residency in a congregate housing setting such as a homeless shelter or long-term care facility, or screening of other asymptomatic individuals based on a case-by-case review and approval by the state health department or local health jurisdiction.
Providers may order testing for persons not meeting the above criteria but are asked to use a commercial or clinical laboratory with which they have an agreement.
For more information, visit alabamapublichealth.gov.