Dr. Mendoza: Testing for COVID-19 is a growing challenge for Monroe County

Coronavirus

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Testing, hospital beds, and medical equipment are needed to handle the growing outbreak in our area and Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza said we aren’t where he’d like us to be.

At Rochester Regional Health testing goes on late into the night.

So far there have been 1,340 COVID-19 test results processed by the Monroe County Public Health Department, with 81 positive cases, but there is still a shortage of tests, something Dr. Michael Mendoza says impacts county effort to control the virus.

“The capacity for testing is still not where we would like it to be. If I had our way, we would test far more individuals then we currently are and the consequences of that of course is we are now under-reporting the total number of cases here in the county,” said Dr. Michael Mendoza, Monroe County, Public Health Commissioner.

MORE | 2nd death from COVID-19 in Monroe County, 81 total cases, 395 in mandatory quarantine

The current test available is a polymerase chain reaction or PCR test. But according to Dr. Mendoza, this test can not tell whether someone had the virus and recovered, or if they are currently infected, which makes it harder to gauge community risk.

“In the future, our hope is that we’ll have an antibody test that will act like the measles or mumps antibodies where once it’s positive, in theory, it should always be positive indicating that you had a prior infection or a vaccine, which we don’t yet have for this,” said Dr. Mendoza.

As more positive tests come in, the focus is turning to hospital capacity. The county has looked at things like recovery facilities, and outpatient centers for COVID-19 cases.

“We’re asking each hospital system to develop a plan that outlines the number of beds that would be available in centrioles if you will. What number of beds with be available in x number of time? How many more could you add if you add another week after that? So we have the ability to predict going forward the number of resources that we’ll be able to have as a community. As far as timelines goes, we’re still working on that,” said Dr. Mendoza.

The county is prioritizing hospitalized individuals, first responders and health care workers for the COVID-19 test. Others are being asked to consult with their primary care physician for a referral for testing.

While the criteria for testing is narrow, Dr. Mendoza did say there has not been any sign that they haven’t been able to test those who needed it.

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