MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – The attention given to COVID-19 testing mostly has focused on the limited available of the tests.

But many people may not realized what is involved with preparing the sample. It is a fairly invasive procedure.

Rendi Murphree, an epidemiologist at the Mobile County Health Department, demonstrated the process at a press briefing on Tuesday.

“So this plastic tip has this sort of bendable part to it here with this scrubby on the end. These are very technical terms; sorry about that,” she said. “So, this has to go in through your nose and all the way back to your nasopharynx area, which is way back here. And so then the specimen is taken.”

The thin swab must enter through a nostril and extend all the way to the back of the throat.

Once collected, Murphree explained, the sample is placed in a vial and sent refrigerated to a laboratory for analysis.

So far, about 10 percent of those tested in Alabama have been confirmed to have the novel coronavirus.

Murphree demonstrates COVID-19 test

Mobile County Health Department epidemiologist Rendi Murphree demonstrates how COVID-19 swabs are administered, a process that involves putting a thin swab through the nose. 

Murphree said that because of that, and because test kits still are in short supply, health officials this week made the guidelines for testing more restrictive.

To qualify now, people will need to be experiencing symptoms of the disease – a fever greater than 100 degrees, a dry cough or shortness of breath – and fall into one of the following categories:

  • Be hospitalized.
  • Have a compromised immune system.
  • Be 65 or older.
  • Be a health care worker
  • Be associated with a long-term care facility.

Murphree said at a Wednesday briefing that test kits have been hard to come by because they are needed more in harder-hit areas.

“We want to support that decision,” she said.

All content © 2020, WALA; Mobile, AL. (A Meredith Corporation Station). All Rights Reserved.


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