COVID-19 tests

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If you want a test, you can have one.

That's the new guidance from the Teton County Health Department, at least for people with symptoms that match COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. For much of the pandemic, testing has been reserved for those in specific groups that are at higher risk from the disease, like people over 65 or those with preexisting conditions that weaken their immune systems.

Now, anyone with symptoms should be able to be tested. Anyone without insurance or those who are underinsured will be able to get a voucher to cover the costs of a test.

“We hope that by eliminating financial barriers, we can successfully reach community testing goals, keep our residents healthy, and reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Teton County,” Teton District Health Officer Dr. Travis Riddell said in a press release.

Tests are available through St. John's Health and at Emerg-A-Care of Jackson Hole. Anyone in need of a voucher can call the Health Department at 733-6401, and that will cover the costs at one of those two locations.

Teton County Director of Health Jodie Pond has pointed to testing as an important component of reopening the economy. If supply were unlimited, she has said, she would want asymptomatic people to be tested, but right now the vouchers are only for people who show signs of disease like fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle aches, chills, headache, loss of taste or smell, and other flu-like symptoms.

Most insurance companies cover the costs of testing, so people with insurance should be able to go through their plan to pay for a test. 

Pond told the Jackson Hole Daily on Monday that Teton County has seen a decrease in the number of people being tested. At the highest rate, people in Teton County were averaging 36 tests per day, but that number has fallen to around 20 a day.

“I hope we’re not falsely suppressing testing numbers because people have been giving up,” she said.

The metrics the Wyoming Department of Health has published to dictate reopening include the rate of people who test positive. Increased testing and a lower rate of infection would show that the outbreak was abating. 

Anyone who believes they may qualify for a test should contact their health care provider.

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-7079 or thallberg@jhnewsandguide.com.

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

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