Dr. Josh Deere, the Grand Forks hospital’s director of primary care, said staff there have 747 tests available for community testing. The hospital has conducted 487 tests in the broader Grand Forks area since March 13, he said at a virtual press conference on Friday afternoon, and are waiting on the results of 109 more. In two prior conferences, Deere didn’t disclose a number, but he assured the meeting’s attendees that it was sufficient.
“I know that we’ve asked for a number, here,” he said Friday. “And I haven’t given it just because we really don’t want to bring about any worry.”
Deere said that it may have been true that only people who had recently traveled or had direct contact with a person who has a confirmed case of the coronavirus would receive a test, but that’s no longer the case.
The North Dakota Department of Health updated its testing guidelines on March 24. Department staff have asked health care providers to consider testing patients who have no identified source of exposure, plus a fever or at least two of the following: a cough, shortness of breath, a sore throat, chills, muscle pain, or fatigue. Hospitals, the department said, should prioritize patients with respiratory illnesses, people who live in places like long-term care facilities or group homes, health care workers, and people who have symptomatic contacts to known cases of the virus.
“Our testing continues to be quite brisk,” Deere said.
Deere also said Altru does not presently need Grand Forks residents to make or donate masks to hospital staff.
“Our staff are safe at this time,” he said at the conference. “We feel like we’re in a good spot, locally. While we want to thank our community for the outpouring of offerings to do and make masks, at this time we cannot accept those. That’s not to say that in the future we may not be on this type of forum asking that that changes.”
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