Moffat County Public Health to purchase COVID testing machine for use in schools
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 9:15 a.m. to reflect current COVID-19 cases in Moffat County, and tests administered.
In hopes of getting COVID-19 testing results faster once the 2020-21 school year is underway, Moffat County Public Health is turning to the Abbott ID Now testing machine for use inside schools this year.
The Abbott ID Now testing machine is a portable, rapid molecular test that allows fast diagnosis in roughly 30 minutes. The machine is one of the most widely-available molecular point-of-care testing technologies in use in the U.S. Since its introduction in 2014, it has been used in physicians’ offices and urgent care centers to rapidly detect influenzas A & B, strep A, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
The machine will be used for voluntary testing on symptomatic students. Testing will require a signed consent form from a parent or guardian.
The ID Now machine uses isothermal technology, proprietary enzymes and constant temperature control to achieve the fastest available RNA amplification. The molecular system greatly reduces the time for results, allowing healthcare providers to make patient care decisions sooner.
To conduct a test, a swab of the nose is taken. Then the swab is placed into an acidic liquid solution heated to 132.8⁰ F that cracks open the envelope of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, exposing its viral RNA, according to the testing machine’s information.
Then the small device, about the size of a toaster and weighing only 6.6 pounds, amplifies the RNA hundreds of millions of times to make the virus detectable — returning test results in 13 minutes or less.
“Our intention is to be quick with these tests so that we can not only keep students safe, but monitor our staff at the school as well,” Public Health Nurse Olivia Scheele said.
Scheele added that the Abbott ID Now testing machine will be used to test for COVID-19 first, before then testing for the flu. The machine will cost roughly $5,000, according to Public Health Director Kari Ladrow.
One key hang-up with the testing machine is that it might not be available to the school district until Oct. 1, Ladrow said.
“We might not receive it until Oct. 1 at this point, but we’re hoping to be able to push the order through for early September,” Ladrow said.
NEW PUBLIC HEALTH NURSE HIRED
With Scheele so busy handling the coronavirus response side of things for Moffat County, Public Health set out to find a second Public Health nurse to handle the immunization side of things.
In steps Becky Copeland, RN, as the second Public Health nurse for Moffat County.
Ladrow introduced Copeland as a new member of the staff during the Aug. 20 Public Health meeting inside the County Commissioners Chambers.
Copeland is a long-time Hayden resident and received her nursing degree from Colorado Northwestern Community College in Craig.
“She’s going to on some of our CDPHE contracts,” Ladrow said to the Board of Public Health. “She’s going to be working in immunizations. This week has really been about learning what Public Health is for her…We’ll also have her shadow Olivia in case she needs to fill in or cover weekends when it comes to COVID.”
PUBLIC HEALTH BREAKS DOWN DEMOGRAPHICS FOR COVID POSITIVES
To date, Moffat County has recorded 35 positive cases of COVID-19.
Of those 35 positive cases, 14 were male and 21 were female, according to Scheele, who provided an in-depth breakdown to the Board of Public Health at the Aug. 20 meeting.
Of those 35 positive cases, one was African American, 14 were Hispanic, and 20 were Caucasian. Twenty-one cases were symptomatic, while 12 were asymptomatic. Two cases were unknown at the time of positive. Additionally, Public Health has administered 1,999 tests to date.
One Moffat County resident is currently hospitalized and on a ventilator at an outside hospital.
Scheele also praised the Contact Tracing team that is currently working for the county, citing the quickness with which the team works to identify close contacts.
According to Scheele, the team usually is on a new positive case within 24 hours and has identified more than 80 close contacts through contact tracing to this point.
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