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MCPHD answers COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

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Montgomery County Public Health District answers frequently asked questions regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) and how cases are being tested and reported in Montgomery County plus more COVID-19 information, resources, and updates on their website at https://mcphd-tx.org/coronavirus-covid-19/

View Frequently Ask Questions and answers provided by MCPHD as of March 24, 2020:

Why aren’t you sharing more information regarding the patients?

“MCPHD is bound by HIPAA regulations. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) aims to protect a person’s Protected Health Information (PHI). In layman’s terms, we are bound by federal law to protect the identity of a person, even in the case of a public health emergency. Giving too much information (exact age, neighborhood, schools in which children attend, employer, etc.), leads to a person’s identity being revealed which is a gross violation of their privacy. This is where the Public Health team of epidemiologists come into play. They are working with patients to obtain a list of close contacts (contact investigation) who may have contracted the virus. They get information on where they’ve been, where their kids attend school, etc. People who our team believes is at risk are contacted directly. If you are a member of the public and you have not been contacted by the Public Health team, we believe your risk is low. According to the CDC, COVID-19 is not airborne. The best way to protect yourself is to avoid public places. Practice social distancing. Stay home if you are sick. Wash your hands. Avoid touching your face. All these precautions are proven to prevent infection.”  


Why don’t you just test everyone?

“The best practice regarding COVID-19 is to only test individuals who have symptoms. Actively testing county residents who do not have symptoms would not lead to positive tests or any mitigation of the spread. At this point, if healthcare providers find a person who they believe may have the virus, they are being tested. MCPHD has negative test results coming in daily. It is important to note, at this point, no county has unlimited access to tests. Unfortunately, at this time, the resources are limited and have to be reserved for the patients most at risk.


How many people are being tested?

“When we first began testing for COVID-19, all the tests for Montgomery County were being sent to one lab which is in the City of Houston. Since last Monday, March 9th, private labs began performing testing. In most cases, MCPHD is only notified of a conclusive result. Therefore, if we shared only internal numbers at this point, the amount would be inaccurate.”


Where can I be tested for COVID-19?

“If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please call ahead to your primary care physician or urgent care for further instructions. Your healthcare provider will screen you for symptoms and recommend you for testing if necessary. Unfortunately, testing kits are limited and have to be reserved for patients most at risk.”


When will there be enough tests for everyone who needs to be tested?

“We are working with our healthcare partners to do everything in our power to obtain more testing materials for Montgomery County. Nationwide, the supply is having a hard time keeping up with demand.”


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I was tested last week. Why haven’t I received my results?

“By law, providers (hospitals, physicians, etc.) are only required to notify Public Health of POSITIVE results. As with any other medical test, you should receive your results (positive or negative) via your healthcare provider where the test was performed. MCPHD will only contact patients upon receiving POSITIVE results. Hospitals in Montgomery County all have patient portals where results are uploaded when they receive them. View the list of the patient portals for the four largest hospital systems in Montgomery County where results can be obtained when they are available on the MCPHD website here.


Why hasn’t the CDC confirmed the Montgomery County tests yet?

“The CDC announced on Monday, March 17th that it would no longer confirm test results. The agency is confident in the accuracy of local testing.”


Will Montgomery County have drive-thru testing facilities?

“We are currently working with our regional partners on a plan. There are a lot of moving parts that need to be discussed before we can move forward, but a plan is in the works.”


If you have a question for MCPHD, please email mwillingham@mchd-tx.org or visit the Montgomery County Public Health District page at https://mcphd-tx.org/coronavirus-covid-19/

Visit the Hello Woodlands COVID-19 Resource page with more links to important websites, information, and where to get help at https://hellowoodlands.com/covid-19-help-montgomery-county/

Source: Montgomery County Public Health District

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