Inova Alexandria Hospital has an “adequate supply” of COVID-19 testing kits for anyone meeting the criteria of symptoms recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hospital President Dr. Rina Bansal told City Council on Wednesday night.
The hospital, which has restricted visitation, is also asking that anyone feeling symptomatic should call ahead to warn staff. Uninsured patients will also be admitted, as their costs will fall under charity care for the nonprofit hospital system.
“If you meet the clinical criteria, you will get the clinical care that you need,” Bansal said. “We have adequate supplies and we continue to use clinical judgment and clinical criteria to test members of the community who are presenting to our facilities. I’m not concerned about being able to provide that level of care.”
On Wednesday, the hospital set up its tented temporary auxiliary screening unit outside the emergency room entrance. The tent has a 10-person capacity.
At this point, the hospital does not have enough tests for a drive-thru facility, although that is the preferred option for testing should the kits become available, Bansal said.
On Saturday, the city declared a state of emergency over the pandemic. There are four positive cases in the city and one Alexandria resident infected in New York City.
Inova’s multidisciplinary team is continuously monitoring the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation. Our dedicated team…
Health Department Director Dr. Stephen Haering recommends that anyone who wants to get tested to call their primary care provider. He added that his staff are working overtime on the COVID-19 response efforts.
“We’ve been very, very stretched,” Haering said. “Things are turning into 12 and 16 hour days for many of our staff. And again, we have pulled staff, from our public health specialty clinics to be able to respond to this.”
Alexandria businesses have closed or altered their standard operating procedures in response to the governor’s recent emergency declaration, which limits establishments to 10 people indoors at a time.
“There are 60 fitness centers [in the city], including yoga studios, gyms, and every single one was in compliance, either by the number of people being 10 or less or that they were closed,” said City Manager Mark Jinks, who added that the police, health department and department of code enforcement will be monitoring restaurants around the city for violations.
Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson has been inundated with calls and messages for the last week, and tells ALXnow that he’s sleeping about three hours a night.
“I’ve been kind of losing track of days as we’ve been going here to these last couple days,” Wilson said. “I have no idea what today is. It’s been an extraordinary time for so many members of our community in so many different ways… This is the beginning of a very long road for us.”
Other medical professionals in Alexandria say there’s still difficulty in getting people access to the tests.
Spoke to a doctor in Alexandria, Va. He says about 300 people have asked him for COVID19 tests. He has not been able to direct them to a safe place to get it done. How's Virginia handling coronavirus, I asked. "Like sprinting into a woodchipper."
— Daniella Cheslow (@Dacheslow) March 19, 2020