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Task force makes COVID-19 testing recommendations

Gov Little News Conf.

BOISE, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK)-A task force assigned by Idaho Governor Brad Little has released a new strategy to improve the state’s testing procedures for the COVID-19 virus.

“A strong economic rebound can only occur with a combination of efforts, and expanded and targeted testing is a big part of our strategy,” Governor Little said. “We have an impressive team of very capable local clinical and laboratory and research experts from across the state helping us navigate this crisis, and I sincerely appreciate their help.”

  • In a Friday news release, the Task Force recommended:

    Who should be tested and how often. Testing across all groups of people should be expanded. This will include testing of both symptomatic and some asymptomatic people based on priority level. The task force proposed five testing priority levels based on testing need. Priority 1 represents people with the highest need for testing (such as healthcare workers, residents of nursing homes, and others) and priority 5 represents those with the lowest need.
  • Investment in local testing capacity must be significantly increased. 
  • Expansion of molecular diagnostic testing now, which in combination with proven public health practices such as tracing, physical distancing, enhanced sanitation, hand hygiene, and instructing ill people to stay home to protect others, will help stop the spread of COVID-19. Molecular diagnostic tests identify the presence of the virus and tell us who is infected. Knowing who has the virus is the most important information we need to reduce disease transmission.
  • A limited use of serologic (antibody) testing, which detects human antibodies to the virus. The presence of antibodies tells us who has been exposed to the virus in the past, but that does not guarantee they will be protected from re-infection. There will be important public health uses for serology testing, but at a later point in the response.

Idaho Bureau of Laboratories Chief Dr. Christopher Ball is co-chair of the task force.  Ball said the state could ultimately be testing as many as 150,000 people per week.

“The takeaway message from these recommendations is that we will need to build incredible testing capacity plus the ability to respond to all of those results with appropriate clinical and public health follow-up care, if we hope to provide widescale and repeated testing for all Idahoans who may need to be tested,” said Dr. Christopher Ball, Chief of the Idaho Bureau of Laboratories and co-chair of the Testing Task Force.

You can view the complete task force report here.

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