On March 10, 2020 the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Suspected or Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Healthcare Settings (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/infection-control/control-recommendations.html).
- To the extent possible, providers should use telemedicine or telephonic communications to evaluate patients and avoid unnecessary visits to healthcare facilities.
- Based on the scientific evidence to date about how COVID-19 is transmitted, newly released infection prevention guidance from CDC, and given shortages of N95 respirators, DC Health advises that collection of nasopharyngeal (NP) and oropharyngeal (OP) swab specimens for COVID-19 testing using contact and droplet precautions with a face mask is appropriate. Eye protection should always be used.
- Specimen collection may be performed in an examination room with the door closed. Severely ill patients who will be transferred to a higher level of care should not be tested in an outpatient setting. Airborne Infection Isolation Rooms (AIIRs) should be reserved for patients undergoing aerosol-generating procedures.
- It is critical that outpatient providers continue to ensure that any patients presenting with respiratory symptoms are immediately given a facemask for source control. If the patient is tested for COVID-19 then provide them with guidance to self-quarantine at home until test results are available to inform next steps.
- Now that COVID-19 testing is available at commercial and hospital labs, providers can choose to pursue testing through the DFS Public Health Laboratory that meet the DC Health testing criteria, or to send specimens to commercial or hospital-based labs.