LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- The Southern Nevada Health District held a telebriefing Friday to provide an update on the state of COVID-19 in the valley with Dr. Michael Johnson and Disease Surveillance Supervisor Kimberly Hertin.
As of March 27, there are 443 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 10 deaths, SNHD officials said.
To date, there are no vaccines or medications approved to treat the virus and the majority of cases are ongoing investigations.
Southern Nevada tests 40 specimens per day, according to SNHD. Privately-owned labs like Quest Diagnostics also receive samples for testing. People who exhibit symptoms including coughing and fever should stay home, Johnson said, and healthcare providers will determine who should be tested.
"We have 119 tests available," Johnson said. "We put in requests through the state and through the federal government for additional tests."
However, SNHD doesn't know when those extraction kits will become available. Still, commercial and state labs have access to their own kits, while local medical professionals wait for more supplies.
PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT
For healthcare workers, the distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) is handled by the Multi-Agency Coordination Center (MACC) to supply professionals with masks, gloves and gowns as outlined by the CDC. These articles are handed out by priority groups: hospitals, first-responders and healthcare providers.
Hygienic guidance still stands: wash your hands, disinfect frequently touched surfaces and stay home when sick. According to SNHD, you should not go to the emergency room unless it is essential.
The male patient who tested positive for COVID-19 is no longer experiencing symptoms and does not pose a risk to others, Johnson said. To help mitigate the spread of the virus, SNHD staffers have screened the facility and are guiding Catholic Charities through any questions or concerns.
Is Southern Nevada public health lab playing role in developing tests? How long before we have our own tests?
"We are working close with state lab on optional tests," Johnson said. "We're working on manufacturing collection kits for testing."
Why has SNHD been reluctant to say how many tests they have and need?
Johnson expressed the need for tests to the governor, CDC and FEMA.
"FEMA has promised multiple times for delivery, but currently, our testing capacity is 40 a day," Johnson said.
How long does it take for results to come out when people are tested?
"Turn around is one to two days, but with more testing and fewer resources, turn around times are longer. Some commercial labs are slammed with samples, which takes longer. Those can take 5 to 7 days, Johnson said.
How many specimens can be tested with an extraction kit?
"It's 1 to 1, as far as extraction kits and swabs," Johnson said.
How many COVID-19 cases are being treated at Clark County hospitals?
"Many of our investigations, given the number of cases that we've received over the last couple of days have just now been initiated and underway," Hertin said. "The original information that we get is usually the positive labs. From there, we have to do the investigation to determine if that person is, in fact, in the hospital, or if they're at home. So many of our investigations are still open."
Because of this investigation process, SNHD doesn't currently have that collective data set.
How would you characterize who gets tested in the valley?
"This is more anecdotal than data analysis, but what we're seeing on the front-end is that we are seeing a lot more urgent care or drive-by tests coming through from medical providers in town that are conducting these tests on people who aren't ill enough to be hospitalized," Hertin said. "So, we have seen an increase in those test results coming through. It's hard to characterize, just anecdotally. So far, it's just too early."
Did the lab receive more reagents to do the tests?
"We have not receive anymore yet. We're waiting on the order for that," Johnson said.
According to Misty Robinson with the Office of Public Health Preparedness, her department has been working with MACC related to resource requests.
"Unfortunately, we received very limited resources from the federal stockpile, Robinson said. "And they're very spotty when we get them. So, we have to prioritize hospitals, EMS providers first, before we can give them to individual clinics."
Updates on the situation in Southern Nevada will provided periodically.