Prevention Measures More Important than Ever as COVID-19 Prevalence Grows and Testing Turnaround Times Increase

July 20, 2020

St. Peter’s Health reminds the community to take basic, everyday precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19, as COVID-19 cases grow locally and testing turnaround times increase. St. Peter’s Health, along with health systems and testing administration sites across the country, are experiencing increasing delays in receiving COVID-19 test results due to growing prevalence and increased testing demand. Test results may not be available to providers and patients for up to or over seven days. This is a significant increase in result turnaround time from even just a week ago. According to information provided to St. Peter’s, primary issues contributing to the delay in test results reporting include limited availability of testing supplies and limited capacity at laboratories that test the samples in Montana and elsewhere.

As a reminder, anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should contact their medical provider or visit the Urgent Care at the Regional Medical Center (hospital) for a walk-in appointment. Testing for community members who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and have a provider order is available at the local health care system's Urgent Care located at the Regional Medical Center daily between 9:00a.m. - 3:00p.m.

St. Peter's Health urges community members to stay home if they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms and/or awaiting a COVID-19 test result, unless they are seeking medical care or COVID-19 testing. As of Friday, July 17, 2020, St. Peter’s Health has three hospitalizations due to COVID-19, the most at a given time since COVID-19 arrived in the community in March. The health system reminds the community that older adults and those with underlying health conditions are more likely to experience serious complications from COVID-19, but people of all ages can be severely impacted by the novel virus.

The increasing delay in testing turnaround times combined with increased prevalence and evidence of community spread as reported by Lewis and Clark Public Health, underscores the importance of taking basic safety precautions to slow the spread of the virus in our community. Basic safety precautions include:

· Wear a cloth face covering. St. Peter’s Health continues to require those within its facilities wear masks, and will continue to do so under Gov. Steve Bullock’s new directive. Masks are available at all facilities for patients and approved visitors, but the health care system urges people to bring their own when possible.

· Wash your hands regularly and well.

· Avoid people who are sick.

· Do not gather in large groups and always practice physical distancing.

· Continually monitor how you are feeling.

More information on COVID-19 can be found by visiting