Newsflash: COVID-19 RT-PCR Testing For You In New Mexico

Well Life ABQ
December 2, 2020

Covid-19 RT-PCR Testing Now Available at Well Life ABQ for Members & Companies!

When your company has a potential COVID exposure, it raises so many questions. Who was exposed? Is anyone symptomatic? When and how do you get your employees tested quickly and economically? The best way is to ask them to go for Covid-19 RT PCR Test With the rise of COVID cases spiraling out of control, it is only a matter of time before your company has to deal with an exposure. The worst part is you may have to deal with this scenario multiple times before this pandemic is over.

And while the state has free testing, the lines are lengthy and the testing turn-around around is long. Meanwhile, your business can’t get work done!People with symptoms are easily identified and isolated pending testing. But there are those people who have no symptoms at all.

Asymptomatic individuals are at a greater risk of spreading COVID-19 infection because they don’t know they have it in the first place. And you or your employees may be some of them.The good news is Well Life ABQ is now offering COVID-19 RT PCR test with a <48hour turnaround in Albuquerque. Known as reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction, RT-PCR is the “gold standard” for COVID-19 testing. 

It performs better compared with other tests with a 99% accuracy rate. The rapid antigen tests are less accurate when they are negative and often need confirmatory PCR testing. This makes it difficult to rely on antigen testing for employee screening after exposure.

Companies get a discounted rate of only $115 with a fast turnaround. The regular rate for an individual is $125. Please contact us at manager@welllifeabq.com or 505-585-2345 to get your company set up. 

Companies without a health insurance benefit and companies that are self-funded, level-funded or partially self-funded can bypass the insurance claim process and pay for testing directly.  

Insurance claims are often inflated and companies that pay their own claims often end up paying MORE through the claims process.

This blog covers topics on the importance of COVID-19 testing, especially for employees and employers:

COVID Monitoring, Testing, and Return to Work Guidelines

Covid Testing Hangout

What is COVID-19?

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a newly discovered coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China in 2019. SARS-CoV-2 causes coronavirus disease or COVID-19, a contagious respiratory disease. It spreads through close contact within 2 meters or 6 feet. You can catch it through respiratory droplets when someone coughs, sneezes, talks, sings, or even just breaths. You get infected when you inhale the droplets or if it lands in your mouth and eyes.

It has also been suggested that smaller droplets spread through airborne transmission. This can travel longer distances and stays in the air longer, too.COVID-19 can have mild, moderate, to severe symptoms. Some people suffer complications that lead to death. Complications include blood clots, heart and lung problems, pneumonia, multiple organ failure, and additional infections. The latest figures reveal the US has more than 10 million cases and ranks number one worldwide with more than 200,000 deaths.

Is there an available vaccine for COVID-19?

There is still no drug that can cure people with COVID-19. No vaccine has been released. At this time, pharmaceutical companies are conducting clinical trials to develop potential vaccines. It has to be proven effective and safe.

The FDA will have to approve the vaccine before it can be distributed to the general population. Even then, the logistics to distribute the vaccine will be complicated. Also, only the most vulnerable will initially receive the vaccine.Thus, it’s critical to contain the spread of the virus since there is still no cure and vaccine. As an employer, you can do something to keep your employees safe. Other than enforcing safety protocols in the workplace, you can also offer your employees COVID-19 testing in Albuquerque.

How can a company reduce its employees’ risk of getting sick from COVID-19?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidelines for employers about the safety of their employees in the workplace. The guidelines aim to maintain a healthy work environment and business operations.

The CDC also enjoins employers to include activities that prevent the transmission of COVID-19 among employees. The White House Guidelines for Opening Up America Again also laid out a phase approach for business employers.One way of preventing the spread of infection is by testing and contact tracing. The Occupational Safety and Health Act recommends testing as an administrative control for employers. This is a way of informing the employees about the availability of screening, telemedicine, and other worker health resources

Moreover, employers may proactively offer testing for symptomatic employees and trace contacts of COVID-19 positive cases. This includes asymptomatic employees who may have had close contact with COVID-19 positive individuals.

Who should get tested for COVID-19?

Not everyone needs to be tested but anyone with symptoms should get tested for COVID-19. The most common symptoms are dry cough, fever, and general body weakness (WHO, 2020). People with severe symptoms exhibit chest pain, confusion, difficulty of breathing, temperature above 100.4 Fahrenheit and loss of appetite. 

People with mild symptoms don’t have to get tested but may stay home to recover in self-isolation. While, individuals without symptoms but had close contact with someone who is COVID-19 positive, may also get tested. As of now, testing in New Mexico is prioritized according to the following:

  1. Symptomatic
  2. Asymptomatic but with close contact
  3. Asymptomatic people from congregated centers, detention centers, nursing care homes, other long-term facilities
  4. People about to undergo surgery

As a precautionary measure, symptomatic people should self-isolate from others until a COVID negative test is confirmed.  The most reliable test for this is PCR.  For more details about COVID-19 testing in Albuquerque, you can call us at the Well Life ABQ – 505 585 2345.

What is RT-PCR?

RT-PCR or PCR is a molecular or nucleic acid test that detects active COVID-19 infection in a person who may be contagious. This is the most accurate among all the diagnostic tests. It’s performed at the acute or active phase of the infection. It doesn’t need a repeat test for confirmation. 

Depending on the test technology, a sample can be taken through nasal, throat swabs or saliva collected in a test tube. The test must be performed at a lab that is CLIA certified to perform the level of the test complexity.  A trained laboratory technician performs the test with the use of chemical substances and specific high-tech equipment. Some Rapid PCR tests do exist and can be performed in a lab that is “CLIA waived”.  These labs are typically found in primary care clinics, like Well Life ABQ.  Other CLIA waived tests that you may be familiar with are pregnancy tests, flu tests or strep tests.

SARS-CoV-2 virus, a ribonucleic acid (RNA), is the causative agent of COVID-19. If the SARS-CoV-2 viral sequence is found in the sample, the RNA is converted into DNA. Thus, the term reverse transcription. A special machine is used in the process of repeated heating and cooling to aid in duplicating the DNA sequence. 

It usually takes multiple cycles as new DNA is created from each stand with the presence of the virus. DNA strands release a fluorescent dye as marker labels attach to it. A computer tracks the amount of fluorescence after every cycle. The laboratory technician detects the virus as the fluorescence reaches a certain level to confirm the presence of the virus.

What are the possible test results from the RT-PCR test?

  • Positive:positive test result may likely be positive even if the exact sensitivity of RT-PCR tests for COVID-19 is yet unknown. Positive results can still be detected 5 to 13 days after discharge in the absence of symptoms. 

  • Negative: A negative result means there was no COVID-19 virus detected in the sample. It doesn’t completely rule out the existence of COVID-19 especially when a person shows obvious signs and symptoms of the infection.  PCR is the most reliable test for this scenario.

  • False-negative: A false-negative result can occur and this may be due to some factors.  These factors include problems with sample collection, transportation, RNA extraction, and the procedure itself.  At Well Life ABQ, we are ensuring EXCELLENT sample collection and using a quality lab.

What are the potential benefits of RT-PCR?

Primarily, the results of the test will guide decision making around quarantine.  Since the PCR test is the most accurate for negative results, a negative result can reasonably bring your employee back to work. This only applies to essential businesses (NM DOH, 2020)

A positive result will reinforce quarantine requirements and help trace further potential exposure.  It may also help your healthcare provider make healthcare decisions.  Unfortunately, the care for COVID is only supportive at this time.  This means treatment decisions are based mostly on symptoms.

What are the potential risks of RT-PCR?

You may experience minor discomfort during nasal or throat swab. You may tear up or gag, which are normal reflexes. There may be a risk for false-negative results as discussed earlier. Moreover, no test is 100% accurate. The reasons for inaccurate test results may be one of the following:

  • The sample collected from you may not have come from your nose and throat.
  • The sample may have been exposed to contaminants or the virus as it was collected or analyzed.
  • The sample wasn’t kept at the right temperature before it can be processed.
  • The chemicals used in the process of DNA duplication may not work correctly.

Is the RT-PCR test offered by Well Life ABQ authorized by the FDA?

A direct primary healthcare provider near you, the Well Life ABQ uses an RT-PCR test manufactured by ThermoFisher Scientific, known as TaqPath™. It’s a multiplex real-time RT-CR test for the qualitative detection of nucleic acid from SARC-CoV-2.

The FDA issued an Emergency-Use Authorization or EUA for the RT-PCR to detect the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in people. The EUA means the RT-PCR test has passed the requirements set by the FDA. These include acceptable evidence on the potential benefits which outweigh potential risk for individuals. The RT-PCR test also met minimum standards of efficacy and safety.  

At this time we are offering nasal swab collection at the clinic and an at home saliva collection option.  Both tests are run by the same lab, with the same technology.  The only difference is sample collection.

Contact us or call 505-585-2345 for more details about COVID-19 testing in Albuquerque.

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