The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is shipping its improved SARS-CoV-2 test kit (pictured) to U.S. state and local public health laboratories, Department of Defense laboratories and select international laboratories.

Coronavirus testing is available in Rock County, but many people might not be able to get tested, even if they have symptoms of COVID-19, the disease the virus causes.

SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital-Janesville has enough testing supplies to last for now, but to preserve supplies, St. Mary’s and other health systems in the state will prioritize testing high-risk patients.

Rock County has no confirmed infections. Forty-four patients have tested negative, according to a news release from the Rock County Public Health Department. But Rock County residents should assume there are cases in the community that have not yet been detected, said Dr. Danielle Mitchell, who practices at St. Mary’s.

“It would be prudent to behave as though it exists in our county, as I have to imagine it does,” said Eric Thornton, president of St. Mary’s.

People who show mild symptoms of COVID-19 and do not have underlying health issues will likely be told to quarantine for two weeks without being tested, Mitchell said.

People with mild symptoms are urged to call their health care providers or a medical professional to get more information. Those with symptoms should not show up to any health care facility without calling first, Mitchell said.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and trouble breathing.

High-risk patients include:

  • Patients who are critically ill and receiving intensive care with unexplained pneumonia or respiratory failure.
  • Patients who are hospitalized with fever or symptoms of respiratory illness and have been in contact with a confirmed case or have traveled to places with known community spread.
  • Patients who are hospitalized with unexplained fever and symptoms of respiratory illness.
  • Health care workers with unexplained fever and symptoms of respiratory illness.

St. Mary’s on Friday plans to open a trailer on site to be its coronavirus evaluation location, Mitchell said.

Patients will be evaluated, possibly tested and provided information on further care from the trailer. Patients will be referred there by physicians.

Mercyhealth this week began drive-thru testing in Janesville for patients referred for testing by a physician.

“Again, I must reiterate, if you are not having an emergency situation, please do not come directly to the emergency room, urgent care or facility to get tested,” Mercyhealth Medical Director Mark Goelzer said in an email statement to The Gazette. “Presenting to a location for sake of getting tested for COVID-19 could result in you getting sent home without being tested.”

State officials this week said the state hygiene lab can complete tests on 400 specimens per day, which is not on pace with demand.

A nationwide shortage of testing supplies, including testing reagents, is posing a threat to testing capacity across the country, said Kelsey Cordova, a community health education coordinator at the county health department.

The department is working with providers to address what is needed and sends that information on to state officials, she said.

Self-isolation is one of the best ways to reduce spread of the virus and ease the demand for materials, Mitchell said.