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— Special to the Camden News

The Arkansas Department of Health’s Local Health Units across the state will offer COVID-19 testing beginning Monday.

Testing is encouraged for all individuals who believe they have had contact with or been exposed to a positive case as well as anyone who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough or shortness of breath. Tests will also be offered to anyone with or without symptoms who lives in or has traveled to an area experiencing active transmission.

Those seeking a test should confirm that the health unit is open and call ahead for an appointment so that staff can prepare and ensure safe spacing between patients. Those that test positive will be notified immediately upon their results’ receipt.

Patients will be directed to self-collect specimens outside of the unit using a provided nasal swab and container. The specimens will then be sent to the state Public Health Laboratory. Results are typically made available within 48 to 72 hours, though it can take up to a week. Positive patients will be notified as soon as a result is available.

Those who are tested will be asked to collect a nasal swab specimen themselves with a provided swab and container. Danyelle McNeill, a spokesperson for the ADH, said in an email correspondence nurses will observe each patients’ self-collection to ensure it is done accurately. The steps for self-collection, she said, are:

  1. Open the wrapper containing the swab

  2. Take the soft end of the swab and place it midway in one nostril, rotate it twice and hold it in the nostril for 15 seconds

  3. Remove the swab and repeat the process in the other nostril

  4. Open the specimen tube and place the soft end of the swab inside

  5. Break off the top of the swab’s stick to place the cap on the tube

“Additionally, we are collecting a nasal specimen which requires the swab to be inserted midway in the nostril. The nasopharyngeal specimen is more invasive as the swab must reach the posterior nasopharynx,” she said.

There is no out-of-pocket cost for the tests, but insurance may be billed for patients who have it.

Camden testing provided by Baptist Health will take place at a tent near the Ouachita Valley Family Clinic at 353 Cash Road.

SOUTHWEST SITES

The following locations offer screening and testing:

• Medical Center of South Arkansas in El Dorado, (870) 863-2000.

• South Arkansas Medical Associates in El Dorado, (870) 862-2400.

• Little River Memorial Hospital in Ashdown, (870) 898-5011.

Caitlan Butler contributed to this article

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