South Dakota’s public health lab lacking COVID-19 test supplies

South Dakota's public health lab lacking COVID-19 test supplies


The South Dakota public health lab hasn’t had the supplies needed to run COVID-19 tests since Monday, according to a state update. 

The state didn’t receive the supplies it needed and there isn’t a time frame for when the supplies will be available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or commercial suppliers, according to an update emailed by state epidemiologist Josh Clayton. He noted that there’s a nationwide shortage of the supplies needed to run the tests.

The state was able to run tests on Monday for medium- and high-risk patients, according to the update. 

The state Department of Health is still asking providers to collect and send samples to the state public health lab in Pierre to test when more supplies are received.

More: What happens when you take a coronavirus test? Lots of waiting and uncertainty.

During the absence of testing, the state department is asking that anyone suspected of having COVID-19 has been completed to self-isolate at home until testing has been completed or they haven’t had a fever for at least three full days, improvement in respiratory symptoms and at least seven days have passed since symptoms first appeared, according to the update.

Avera Health and Sanford Health officials, who announced Tuesday they would partner together to process of tests, said  the change could affect some of the operations within the health care system, but it should not affect care for patients. 

More: Avera, Sanford joining forces on coronavirus testing

“If you’re sick, stay home. Isolate yourselves, period. End of story, whether you’ve got the common cold or COVID-19,” Avera McKennan Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mike Elliott said during a press conference with city officials Wednesday morning.

Doctors estimated 80% of people who get the illness will have cold-like symptoms, 10% will need hospitalization and, of those, 5% will need intensive care. Officials with both healthcare systems said they’re prepared and that the nationwide shortage has not affected their hospitals yet. 

“We have folks in our supply chain that are working diligently to do everything possible to ensure that we don’t run short of the (nasal) swabs we use to test patients, the viral medium required to take that swab and get it to a lab for testing,” Elliot said. “Is there a possibility of a shortage? Absolutely. Right now, we’re OK at this point.”

Test results, at minimum, have a 24-hour turnaround time, and once tested, samples are shipped to a private vendor lab or to the state to be run for confirmation, officials said. Positive results are reported to the state, negative results are given to the patients in as timely a manner as possible, officials said.

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