The Northeast Georgia Medical Center Gainesville has already tested its first patient for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
Luckily, the patient’s results came out as negative for the coronavirus on Friday, March 6, according to the hospital.
Dr. Supriya Mannepalli, medical director of Northeast Georgia Physicians Group Infectious Disease, said the patient was admitted because their fever and other symptoms warranted hospital care. She assures the community that the clinicians are following all system and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols to protect the hospital’s patients and staff.
Mannepalli said NGMC Gainesville has only tested one patient for the novel coronavirus.
“COVID-19 testing is an oral or nasal swab, similar to what you experience when you get tested for the flu,” Dr. Mannepalli said. “Once we swab the patient, that test is sent to the Georgia Department of Public Health Lab to confirm whether the patient is positive or negative for COVID-19.”
As of Friday, Nancy Nydam, director of communications from the Georgia Department of Public Health, said around 50 people in Georgia have been tested for COVID-19.
At this time, Dave Palmer, District 2 Public Health’s public information officer, said only state-wide test numbers are being reported, not county level.
The CDC has established criteria for COVID-19 testing. Nydam said the Georgia Department of Public Health uses that guidance in consultation with health care providers. The agency evaluates the patient’s medical history, acute symptoms, travel history or possible contact with someone infected with COVID-19.
When the state labs see positive results for COVID-19, Nydam said they’re sent to the CDC for verification.
“That is out of an abundance of caution due to the fact state public health labs only started testing this week – basically, because it is a new test,” Nydam said.
For people wondering what symptoms warrant a COVID-19 test, Nydam recommends looking for fever, cough and shortness of breath, and also taking into consideration one’s travel history, medical history and exposure.
For updates and more information about COVID-19 visit cdc.gov/coronavirus.
Megan Reed contributed to this report.