Doctors explain importance of social distancing, requirements for COVID-19 testing

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Celebrating Seniors

(WTAJ) — In the Commonwealth, there are 4,843 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus. Doctors are stressing that people need to be taking all preventative measures, whether you’re under a stay-at-home order or not, like hand washing, social distancing, and staying at home. They said until everybody takes these guidelines seriously, the number of cases will continue to rise.

In order for patients to be tested, they must have a referral from their primary doctor and meet CDC criteria.

“While we would like to be able to test more individuals, that’s not currently possible,” Dr. Shaun Sheehan, Emergency Medicine Physician for Penn Highland Health System, said.

There are four priority levels for COVID-19 testing, according to the CDC. The first group includes hospitalized patients and symptomatic health care workers. Second includes those patients showing symptoms who are 65 or older, have underlying conditions, such as diabetes, heart diseases, or asthma, or first responders. Third, if tests are available, anyone who is showing symptoms but didn’t fall in the second priority level. People who do not have symptoms are not a priority to be tested.

“Could people be walking in a community with COVID-19? The answer is yes, but until we have mass testing available to us, and that will be some time, that will go unknown,” Dr. Sheehan said.

Because of that, doctors said everyone needs to think not just about their health, but that of their neighbors, family members, even people they don’t know, and be responsible.

“But if we’re carriers and bump into somebody who has health conditions, it can be deadly, so we have to take it very very seriously,” Dr. Sheehan said.

The Penn Highlands System has performed 165 Coronavirus tests. So far, the results back from the labs have are all negative.

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