Campbell County Public Health (CCPH) announced that it will begin offering free saliva-based COVID-19 tests starting Monday, Sept. 21, to provide an option for Campbell County residents who are showing symptoms but might not otherwise be able to afford testing.
Addressing the Campbell County Commissioners at their Monday afternoon board meeting, CCPH Executive Director Jane Glaser said the free tests were provided to CCPH by the Wyoming Public Health Lab (WPHL) and offer an alternative to the more invasive nasal swab RT-PRC test, which she said many people find to be uncomfortable.
The molecular saliva-based tests have a 98% accuracy rate and are easily administered, Glaser explained, with patients rubbing the cotton swab in their own mouths, which are then shipped overnight to California with results delivered as early as the next day.
CCPH will be the first medical facility in the county to veer away from nasal testing strategies when diagnosing COVID-19, Glaser added, noting that both Black Hills Urgent Care and Campbell County Health utilize the PRC test.
“I think when people find out that we’re only testing saliva, it will alleviate some of that stress around COVID-19 testing,” Glaser told commissioners.
Patients looking to get tested for COVID-19 should call CCPH in advance to schedule an appointment as the number of available appointments will be limited to 26 patients each day.
The appointments are scheduled in half-hour intervals, Glaser explained during a phone interview Tuesday. On most days, the facility will see two patients every 30 minutes from 8:30 – 11:30 a.m. and from 1 – 4:30 p.m. However, when testing begins Monday, the facility will accept only one patient per half-hour, for a total of 13 patients that day, to ensure things run smoothly.
Due to the size of the county, WPHL allotted Campbell County’s distribution to 3,000 tests, Glaser explained, with 1,500 of those currently on hand at CCPH.
“We’re ready,” she said.
CCPH plans to prioritize uninsured and underinsured patients as well as those receiving Medicaid or Medicare, Glaser said, in hopes of attracting individuals and families in the community who may have concerns about COVID-19 but can’t justify the expense of getting tested.
Patients being tested are asked to refrain from eating or drinking 20 minutes prior to their appointment.
For more information about the test or to make an appointment, contact CCPH at (307) 682-7275.
In the event that a patient tests positive for COVID-19, Glaser said CCPH will closely examine anyone with whom the positive case has come into contact. Those contacts will be required to quarantine for 14 days, per protocol, as CCPH conducts contract tracing.