COVID-19 crisis testing healthcare providers, experts

Emergency warning signs of COVID-19 include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or an inability to be roused and bluish lips or face.

Not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19, a form of novel coronavirus disease.

That’s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which stated most people who contact COVID-19 will have mild illness and be able to recover at home.

“There is no treatment specifically approved for this virus,” CDC stated. “Testing results may be helpful to inform decision making about who you come in contact with.”

Michelle Eberhardt, director of Richland County Public Health, said she is unsure how many COVID-19 tests have been conducted in Richland County, North Dakota. Local testing facilities, including Essentia Heath and Sanford Health, Wahpeton, and CHI St. Francis, Breckenridge, Minnesota, would report to her if a case of COVID-19 is diagnosed, but not about the number of tests conducted.

“We do have a lag (in terms of results),” Eberhardt said. “Governor Burgum has talked about the lag. We’ve gotten calls from people saying they’ve been tested 10 days ago and they’re still waiting for results.”

The North Dakota Department of Health announced four new cases Tuesday, March 24 for a total of 36 confirmed cases. The latest individuals are a man in his 20s from Dunn County, North Dakota, who contracted COVID-19 through travel, a woman in her 60s from Burleigh County, North Dakota, who also contracted COVID-19 through travel, and two from Cass County, North Dakota. One is a man in his 70s and one is a man in his 90s. Both Cass County cases are under investigation.

Decisions about testing are at the discretion of state and local health departments and/or individual clinicians, CDC continued. Representatives from Essentia Health and Sanford Health were unable to provide comments as of press time.

“Clinicians should work with their state and local health departments to coordinate testing through public health laboratories, or work with clinical or commercial laboratories,” the center stated.

Last weekend, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first rapid point-of-care COVID-19 test. According to reports, it can deliver results in less than an hour.

Cephid, based out of Sunnyvale, California, announced it has received emergency authorization from the government to use the test. The company is based in diagnostics.

“While the (FDA) has approved about a dozen other COVID-19 tests in response to the public health emergency caused by the coronavirus pandemic, (Cephid’s) is the first one that can be used at the point of care,” NPR reported.

Test kits will be available by the end of the month, Cephid stated. They are expected to modify the testing process.

“Until now, to get test results, a health care worker would take a swab from the back of a person’s nose and send it off to a public health, commercial or hospital lab, or to a lab at the (CDC) in Atlanta,” NPR reported. “The process can take days.”

Cephid’s method still involves a nasal swab, but testing is intended to be done in a doctor’s office or clinic with a detection time of approximately 45 minutes.

Emergency warning signs of COVID-19 include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or an inability to be roused and bluish lips or face.

“If you don’t feel good, stay home,” Eberhardt said.

Eberhardt is preparing for an active late winter and early spring. In addition to the possibility of diagnosed COVID-19 cases in Richland County, there are also population factors.

“Our snowbirds are coming home,” she said. “In the farming community, we have people from other countries coming to work with our agriculture.”

For the time being, Twin Towns Area residents are urged to be vigilant and follow best practices against COVID-19. Those who aren’t practicing social distancing are encouraged to keep records of their daily activities and close contacts.

Approximately 396,000 individuals worldwide have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine reported Tuesday morning. They include nearly 46,500 cases diagnosed in the United States.

North Dakota residents with questions or concerns about COVID-19 can call NDDOH’s hotline at 1-866-207-2880. The hotline is open from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. seven days a week.

“Individuals who need medical advice should contact their health care provider,” the department stated.

Additional COVID-19 information is available at the department website,, or the CDC website,

For full, free-access coverage of the coronavirus situation in North Dakota and Minnesota, visit

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