Valley Health has testing kits and protective equipment for health care professionals as it continues its screening of patients who may be infected with the COVID-19 virus.
Test kits are free of charge, Valley Health confirmed in an email on Friday, though patients must first be recommended to screening sites by their primary care physician.
Screening sites are located in outdoor tents at Winchester Medical Center, Rutherford Crossing north of Winchester and at the Warren Memorial Hospital Outpatient Center in Front Royal.
Testing kits are provided through the Virginia Department of Health and the Valley Health System. Asked how many testing kits are available in the region, Valley Health Public Relations Manager Carol Weare said that the number changes each day as testing kits are used and new shipments arrive.
“At this point,” she wrote in an email, “tests are available in the region but in short supply.”
Over the weekend, the Lord Fairfax Health District announced that the first two people in the Northern Shenandoah Valley had tested positive for COVID-19 — a woman in her 30s who lives in the district and a man in his 60s who does not live in the area.
The Lord Fairfax Health District is part of the Virginia Department of Health and covers Winchester and the counties of Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren.
“This is a dynamic situation,” Weare wrote in the email. “At this point, we have sufficient personal protective equipment, or PPE, supplies and we are working with our group purchasing supplier and the State of VA to get more. We are also urging our staff and physicians to be especially mindful about following protocols in order to preserve inventory.”
In a Friday news release, Valley Health urged the public to call their doctor if they’re exhibiting symptoms of illness that include fever, dry cough and shortness of breath — the main identifiable symptoms of a COVID-19 infection.
People with those symptoms who have recently traveled from a location with COVID-19 or who think they may have been exposed to the virus should call their doctor’s office, answer screening questions, and be directed accordingly.
Do not go to the doctor, urgent care center or hospital emergency room unless directed, the release states.
“Individuals who are severely ill and need emergency care are asked to call a number posted outside the hospital Emergency Department before entering,” the release states. “Dispatchers will guide 911 callers and EMS responders if COVID-19 is suspected.
“Sick individuals are asked to do all they can to protect others by limiting contact with unprotected family, emergency responders, and hospital staff as they seek care.”