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COVID-19 Testing Ramps Up In Southwest Ohio, But Notification Lags

The CDC's laboratory test kit for the new coronavirus.
The CDC's laboratory test kit for the new coronavirus.

The amount of COVID-19 testing in Hamilton County has climbed significantly. Interim Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman says by the end of Wednesday, about 6,000 people will have been tested at pop-up sites run by the Ohio National Guard alone. But the increase has overwhelmed other functions.

"All of this testing has certainly put a burden on our laboratory, and so results are slowly coming back," Kesterman says.

Hamilton County Public Health has contracted with extra labs to meet the demand for testing samples and has hired temporary workers to help with making notifications.

"My team is now responsible for communicating out the negative test results as well as the positive results," Kesterman says. "As soon as the lab sends the results to us, we are sharing those out via a phone call."

HCPH spokesman Mike Samet says they are working as fast "as humanly possible" to get results to people. He says calls for positive results get priority, and negative results come as they can get to them.

Kesterman says the notification calls, both positive and negative, come from 513-946-7800. He says if you're waiting for results, and that number comes up, take the call.

Samet says if someone got tested because they were exhibiting or suspected having symptoms, they should self-quarantine while waiting for results. He points out that getting a negative test is not a "get out of jail free card" and someone can contract COVID-19 shortly after testing negative.

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Rinehart has been a radio reporter since 1994 with positions in markets like Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio: and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.