As health officials work to gain an understanding of where coronavirus is in Cache County, Intermountain Healthcare has established drive-through testing for the virus.
People with COVID-19 symptoms — fever, cough, shortness of breath — may now drive to the North Cache Valley InstaCare in Hyde Park and be tested in a drive-through tent adjacent to the clinic without leaving their vehicles.
“It’s basically creating a barrier by keeping them in their vehicle,” Intermountain spokesperson Sarah Fitzgerald said. “You have that ability to be far more safe by having them at a distance and say, ‘OK, tell me what your symptoms are, what’s going on.’”
The drive-through testing clinic also helps direct people away from the emergency room, Fitzgerald said, which is only for urgent situations.
“You also have your caregivers far better prepared (at a dedicated testing clinic) than if somebody just walks up into our ER and we don’t know if they might or might not have COVID-19,” Fitzgerald said.
People no longer need a physician’s order to be tested, Fitzgerald said, but Intermountain strongly recommends calling the COVID hotline at (844)442-5224 before visiting. The clinic is located at 4088 N. U.S. Highway 91 in Hyde Park.
“People can drive up and go to get tested, however, we do still ask that they call beforehand, just to give them (InstaCare workers) a heads-up that they are coming,” Fitzgerald said, “because it’s good for our caregivers to be prepared with the proper protective equipment that they need to.”
While drive-through testing conjures up comparisons to fast food, it will still take 24-72 hours for patients to get results back, according to Fitzgerald. The tests will be sent to Intermountain’s medical laboratory in Salt Lake City for processing.
“We do have more capacity for testing than we did previously,” Fitzgerald said, “but because testing is still a little bit limited, if people aren’t showing signs of a fever, cough, shortness of breath, they likely wouldn’t be tested because those are the symptoms of COVID-19.”
People can visit intermountainhealthcare.org/covid19-coronavirus/ to use an interactive symptom tracker that can help pre-screen people to determine whether testing is called for.
Outside of experimental therapies, the treatment for COVID-19 is currently the same for illnesses with similar symptoms, like cold or flu. Whether you have COVID-19 or a more common virus, Fitzgerald said, you’ll still be asked to self-isolate unless your situation becomes urgent — and that’s the proper time to visit the ER for additional care.
Increased testing will help give health officials a better picture of who might have COVID-19, but it also serves to underscore the importance of “social distancing” practices for everyone, regardless of whether they feel ill, Fitzgerald said.
Social distancing includes staying home except for limited, necessary trips such as a person without symptoms going to the grocery store once a week. People are encouraged to stay at least 6 feet apart from people outside their households. The virus is believed to be capable of surviving on various surfaces for hours and even up to days, but hand sanitizer and ordinary soap are effective in killing the virus. Officials recommend frequent hand washing, especially before touching your face, where the virus could enter your mouth, nose or eyes.
For more information or to find out whether you should be tested for COVID-19 in Cache Valley, visit intermountainhealthcare.org/covid19-coronavirus/ or call (844)442-5224. The North Cache Valley InstaCare is located at 4088 N. U.S. Highway 91 in Hyde Park.