North Atlanta Primary Care

COVID-19 Testing

May 12, 2020

COVID-19 TESTING

This past week Gov. Kemp announced a GA DPH policy change in testing persons for the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the Coronavirus. The GA DPH until recently had reserved testing only for high-risk symptomatic individuals and patients requiring hospitalization. On May 7th the Governor announced any person desiring testing, including asymptomatic individuals could now request and receive a COVID-19 test. With only 225,000 tests performed in GA over the last four months, this policy change is a major disrupter for healthcare providers. Gov. Kemp recommended 2 options to receive a test:

Can you review the current testing policy at NAPC?

Since early March 2020 NAPC has been providing COVID-19 diagnostic testing through its partnership with Quest Diagnostics labs. It requires a medical evaluation and a nasal-pharyngeal collection that is submitted to the lab. Results are highly accurate being a molecular test using nucleic acid amplification techniques and high thru-put equipment.

Since mid-April 2020 NAPC has provided COVID-19 serology tests for antibodies through Quest Diagnostic labs. This particular serology test measures the presence of the IgG antibody, which typically appears 10 days post-infection and continues to increase for many weeks. It is a highly accurate test and has been approved by the FDA. More recently we have acquired serology testing from LabCorp which measures 3 types of antibodies, IgA, IgM and IgG. The LabCorp tests for both early phase and late phase coronavirus antibodies. Serology testing is NOT diagnostic of coronavirus infections. We believe that the presence of antibodies may confer some level of immunity to COVID-19, but more study is required.

At NAPC simply call 770-442-1911 to arrange a telemedicine appointment to schedule a diagnostic or serology test for COVID-19. NAPC will continue to prioritize testing for our patients with symptoms and individuals at higher risks, i.e. healthcare workers, first responders, elder care staff and residents. If you have had COVID-19 we recommend testing antibodies 4 weeks following symptom resolution. NAPC will continue to communicate with you once testing at point-of-care is available.

Does NAPC have point-of-care COVID-19 testing?

We have not acquired in-office testing kits from Abbott Labs that would allow us to perform nucleic acid diagnostic tests for coronavirus in the office. Abbott continues to regulate the distribution of these test kits to hospitals and first responders. We currently have over 15 ID Now analyzers in our NAPC facilities and will begin rapid office testing when test kits become available.

https://www.abbott.com/corpnewsroom/product-and-innovation/an-update-on-abbotts-work-on-COVID-19-testing.html

On May 9th the FDA authorized the first antigen test for the rapid detection of coronavirus. This is a different method of determining if you are infected with COVID-19. These diagnostic tests quickly detect fragments of proteins found on or within the virus from samples collected on swabs in the nasal cavity.

One of the benefits of this type of test is the speed at which the results can be obtained. PCR tests run by Quest labs can take several days, but antigen tests, similar to rapid Strep A testing, will take just minutes and are very simple to administer. However, they are not as accurate as PCR tests. Antigen tests are very specific for the virus but not as sensitive. This means a negative antigen test may require a confirmation test with a PCR test. Antigen testing will play a critical role in the fight against COVID-19 and we will use them at NAPC to help expand our ability to treat our patients and get persons back to work and school.

https://www.quidel.com/

Are home COVID-19 testing kits available yet?

The FDA authorized the first at-home collection molecular test, called Pixel by LabCorp on April 20th. The test kit contains a nasal swab that you send back to the lab for testing. This is a big step forward as healthcare workers are not involved in the collection of the specimen and lessen exposure risks and spread of the virus. This test may require an Rx and will be available to consumers in the upcoming weeks. The FDA has not authorized any tests to be entirely used and processed at home. Once these tests are available to our patients we will let you know the process to simply have a virtual visit and receive a prescription.

https://www.pixel.labcorp.com/

Can you provide salvia tests for COVID-19 yet?

Recently the FDA authorized the first molecular test that uses salvia instead of a nasal swab. This test developed by Rutgers’ RUCDR Infinite Biologics is highly accurate and will be very useful in performing large volumes of tests. We expect that home test kits will be available as well. NAPC continues to monitor the availability of all these testing methods and will continue to communicate with you weekly as these tests become available to our patients.

https://www.vaulthealth.com/covid

Can the hospitals provide COVID-19 testing?

Hospitals are reopening to more routine care and surgeries. Health Systems are currently testing all patients admitted to the hospital with COVID like illness. They test all patients that have a surgical procedure 72 hours prior to surgery. NAPC is working with several ambulatory surgery centers to provide COVID-19 diagnostic testing prior to their procedure. If you are planning a major medical, dental or GI procedure, discuss with your physician getting screened for COVID-19 before your surgery. Do not undergo surgery if you test COVID positive.

https://www.wellstar.org/education/pages/press-releases/2020/wellstar-coronavirus-community-page.aspx

Can you provide testing at the drive-thru testing sites?

Here is the Georgia link for reviewing and getting an appointment at the drive-thru testing sites. In our experience the number of tests that can be done changes regularly. Each site uses a different method for performing COVID-19 testing. Some can give results in 5-15 minutes with the Abbott ID Now molecular tests. Other sites continue to process at Georgia DPH labs and others use private reference labs. If you require an Rx for a COVID-19 test we can provide one to you during a virtual visit.

https://dph.georgia.gov/find-location/covid-19-testing-site

Final Thoughts:

If you are experiencing COVID like symptoms, please call NAPC and we will arrange a virtual visit with your healthcare provider today. We are equipped to treat you and arrange appropriate testing. If you were sick several weeks ago and would like to perform antibody testing to determine your status, we will arrange for a blood draw in our offices. If you are asymptomatic and would like to have a PCR diagnostic test for COVID, we recommend until we have in-office testing, that you consider a drive through testing site. We appreciate the trust you place in us to provide healthcare to you and your family. We are all in this together. Please stay home and stay safe. www.NAPC.md

Respectfully,

Thomas E. Bat, MD

Medical Director NAPC

Alpharetta: 3400-C Old Milton Parkway, Suite 270, Alpharetta, GA 30005
Braselton: 1255 Friendship Road, Suite 130, Braselton, GA 30517
Cumming: 1800 Northside Forsyth Drive, Suite 450, Cumming, GA 30041
East Cobb: 1121 Johnson Ferry Road, Suite 450, Marietta, GA 30068
Johns Creek: 4235 Johns Creek Parkway, Suite A, Suwanee, GA 30024
Sandy Springs: 1150 Hammond Dr., Building E, Suite 310, Atlanta, GA 30328
Sugar Hill: 4700 Nelson Brogdon Blvd., Suite 250, Buford, GA 30518
West Paces: 3200 Downwood Circle NW, Suite 200, Atlanta, GA 30327
Woodstock: 250 Parkbrooke Place, Suite 300, Woodstock, GA 30189

All locations: 770-442-1911