Covid-19 testing kicks off at Landmark College Statewide testing increases by 56 percent from yesterday, 24 new cases, no new deaths

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The first patient of the day goes through the registration process. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

Just before 8 a.m. Sunday morning, in a chilly drizzle, Lt. Col. Miles Trudell and his crew of National Guard soldiers were putting the finishing touches on a drive-through testing operation at Landmark College’s parking lot D.

The tents for registering and testing patients and processing specimens were in place and all that seemed left to be done was placing traffic cones to route the vehicles of those expected to come for tests.

Pointing to the registration tent, Col. Trudell explains how the process will be handled.

“I don’t expect to see a lot of people today,” said Trudell. “But tomorrow will be a different story. It’s going to get busy.”

Trudell walked a visitor though the site just before opening – noting that no one but staff and patients would be allowed there after the testing facility opened.

He explained that people driving up will  first encounter a registration tent where they would have to have a referral from their physician. This could either be done by the health-care provider emailing the referral to the National Guard or the patient could show the referral received from the provider.

Specimens will be taken from patients at this tent and then….

Next the patient drives up to a tent where specimen swabs will be taken and the patient leaves.

The specimens are then taken to a third tent where they are catalogued, packaged and refrigerated in a small “cube” style fridge familiar to anyone who has ever lived in a dorm.  It bore the sign “NO FOOD.” Finally, the specimens go to a lab to be tested for the coronavirus.

…processed and refrigerated here

At 8:09 a.m., the first patient arrived and —  while the registration process took about 20 minutes — by 8:30, the actual testing had begun. Another patient quickly followed and by 9 a.m., as the drizzle turned into a steady rain, a third was arriving. Trudell thought that once the site was up and running it could put through tests “in the triple digits.”

The site was open until 3 p.m. Sunday and, according to a press release issued last night, it scheduled to remain open daily from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. but that will all depend upon the availability of testing supplies.

In the meantime, Springfield Hospital on Sunday announced that it is opening a drive-through testing site, which will take patients by appointment only. To be tested, a person much have an order from his primary care physician or a hospital triage or walk-in provider. The hospital will then call the patient to schedule testing.

Signs on River Road direct patients to the testing site

The new testing sites are part of the “full-court press” strategy to contain the spread of the virus announced by Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine on Friday. This will be accomplished with a larger cache of testing supplies that resulted from “aggressive procurement.”

The state hopes to get a better idea of how far the virus has spread and to work to isolate and trace the contacts of those infected. Until now, limited testing supplies forced prioritized testing to high-risk patients.

Levine said health-care providers are now able to include people with mild to moderate symptoms in making clinical referrals for priority testing. The risk is that wider testing will deplete the supply of testing materials so that the procedures may slow down again later.

The steady increase in positive cases in Vermont, along with the growing number of people who are ill and who, tragically, have died from the virus, mean that while we will draw on our supplies more quickly, the benefit of more testing now significantly outweighs the risk that we may have to slow these efforts again later,” said Levine on Friday.

“Our overall strategy is to test, to counsel and isolate those who test positive, conduct contact tracing, and quarantine as clinically appropriate,” he said.

Covid 19 cases and daily increases reported as of March 29, 2020

Statewide testing jumps day to day

This afternoon the health department released figures that show that test results from March 27 to March 28 jumped 56 percent or from 2374 to 3701. At the same time 24 people tested positive for the coronavirus while no one died of the Covid-19 disease. There are currently 235 people known to be infected with the coronavirus in Vermont.





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