Erie doctor: COVID-19 tests will require medical visit - News - GoErie.com
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Erie doctor: COVID-19 tests will require medical visit – News – GoErie.com

The COVID-19 tests will eventually be available at physician offices, urgent-care centers and emergency departments, said Saint Vincent President Christopher Clark, D.O.

COVID-19 testing will eventually be available at more locations, but people shouldn’t expect to buy them on pharmacy shelves.

Christopher Clark, D.O., president of Saint Vincent Hospital, said he expects these tests to be offered in physician offices and urgent-care centers in addition to emergency departments.

But people probably will be required to see a medical provider to get tested, said Wayne Jones, D.O., Saint Vincent’s medical director of emergency medicine.

“It’s like the flu test,” Jones said. “It’s been around for a long time, but you can’t purchase it over the counter. I’d be surprised if the COVID-19 test is ever available over the counter.”

The availability of COVID-19 tests has been a serious concern in the United States in recent weeks.

Nasal swabs taken from patients in Erie first had to be sent for testing to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention in Atlanta. It was only this past week that the Pennsylvania Department of Health laboratory outside of Philadelphia began testing patient samples.

UPMC on Saturday announced the successful development of its own test along with plans to rapidly increase capacity at its central laboratory.

Allegheny Health Network is developing a version of a test it plans to offer at its labs in Pittsburgh. AHN officials said this past week that the tests will be available in “one to two weeks” and will later be available at its other hospitals.

The issue with sending nasal swabs out of town for testing is that it takes longer to get a result. Jones said the average turnaround time has declined in recent days to about 24 hours.

Emily Shears, UPMC Hamot’s director of infection protection, said having a lab in Pittsburgh could reduce that time to about 12 hours. She said there are no plans at this time to have the UPMC tests available at Hamot.

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Contact David Bruce at dbruce@timesnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ETNBruce.

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