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DC Expands Testing

DC Health is expanding the priority groups for testing to allow some high-risk individuals who were exposed to COVID-19 but do not have symptoms to get tested. It is the first time the District will test asymptomatic individuals.

At her Wednesday morning press conference, Mayor Muriel Bowser said that testing criteria will be expanded to include asymptomatic individuals with a history of exposure to COVID-19 who are also in high-risk groups.

High-risk individuals include those over 65 or those with pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease or lung disease.

Still, Bowser encouraged those feeling ill to seek medical help. “If you have COVID symptoms or otherwise feel ill, you’ll want to reach out to your doctor or call the hotline,” said Bowser. “Call your doctor and let them help you decide.”

The District is also opening a new public testing site at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) on April 23 at the Bertie Backus Campus (5171 South Dakota Ave. NE), located near to Fort Totten Metro Station in Ward 5.

Like the testing center at United Medical Center, the new UDC testing site will accept both walk-through and drive-through patients. It will be open Tuesday and Thursday, and just like at the UMC site, an appointment will be required. Residents can make an appointment by calling the testing hotline at 1-855-363-0333.

DC Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt said that the expansion was based on a targeted population. She said data seems to indicate that there are asymptomatic and are infecting people in households or congregate settings. Because they don’t have symptoms, they don’t enter into quarantine, she said, and are potentially infecting others.

“We’re not in a position at this time where we are asking for all asymptomatic individuals in our community to push into our system and ask for testing,” Nesbitt said. She said the focus remained on medical service providers and high-risk persons.

During the April 23rd press conference, Department of Forensic Sciences (DFS) Dr. Jennifer Smith said that her lab could process 500 samples a day on their mail platform and had 6,560 tests –or 12 day’s worth– available, with another 1,440 on the way.

Rapid Testing to be Deployed

The District will be deploying new the Abbott ID Rapid Point-of-Care tests at selected facilities. The Abbot ID device can deliver results between 5 and thirteen minutes. Bowser said they would be sent to 6 homeless shelters, 2 at Department of Corrections (DOC) facilities, 2 at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, one at Mary’s Center as well at least one to long-term care and skilled nursing facilities.

Personnel will be trained to use the device between April 21 and 26, and the District will be deliver the devices later this week.

“The goal is not to replace the other methods of testing that are available, including larger sampling that could be sent to eh pub hlth lab. It adds another tool that will help in the strategic decision making around quarantine and isolation at these facilities, and gives the people there immediate access to those tests.

Bowser said that on Wednesday, the District received a new shipment of PPE destined for long-term care facilities, including almost 30,000 gowns, 9,500 face shields 17,000 masks that will be distributed to long-term care facilities.

As of Tuesday, April 21, DC had 3,206 confirmed cases of COVID-19 from a total of 15,502 tests performed. 127 District residents have lost their lives to the disease, including 102 African-Americans.

Learn more about the District response to Coronavirus and see more detailed data by visiting coronavirus.dc.gov

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