What is the difference between PCR testing and serology (antibody) testing?
PCR testing is used to detect a virus itself in the nose, throat or other areas of the respiratory tract to determine if there is an active infection. Serology testing (or antibody testing) looks for antibodies to determine if there has been an infection in the past.
For a full explanation, download the PDF available at this link: https://mcphd-tx.org/wp-content/uploads/COVID19-PCRvsSerologyTesting.pdf.
When is someone considered “recovered” from COVID-19?
Persons with COVID-19 who have symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home may discontinue isolation under the following conditions:
- At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
- Improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and,
- At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
Persons with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 who have not had any symptoms may discontinue isolation when at least 10 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test and have had no subsequent illness provided they remain asymptomatic. For 3 days following discontinuation of isolation, these persons should continue to limit contact (stay 6 feet away from others) and limit potential of dispersal of respiratory secretions by wearing a covering for their nose and mouth whenever they are in settings where other persons are present. In community settings, this covering may be a barrier mask, such as a bandana, scarf, or cloth mask. The covering does not refer to a medical mask or respirator.
For more information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/disposition-in-home-patients.html.
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?
Testing is now available for anyone who would like to be tested, regardless of symptoms. Please contact the MCHD/MCPHD Call Center at 936-523-5040 for more information on our voucher system.
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. You can find these numbers on The Department of State Health Services website.
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. If you need help finding a testing site, please call the MCPHD Hotline at 936-523-5040. Each Montgomery County resident is eligible for one test via the MCHD/MCPHD voucher program.
When will there be enough tests for everyone who needs to be tested?
We now have enough tests through our voucher program for Montgomery County residents.
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. As a courtesy to the public, here is a list of the patient portals for the four largest hospital systems in Montgomery County where results can be obtained when they are available.
Memorial Hermann Hospital – The Woodlands
EverydayWell – http://www.memorialhermann.org/everydaywell/
HCA Houston Healthcare Conroe (formerly Conroe Regional Hospital)
MyHealthONE – https://hcahoustonhealthcare.com/myhealthone/
CHI St. Luke’s The Woodlands
MyChart – https://mychart.sleh.com/prd/
This site is for access if seen at the following facilities:
- Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center
- Lakeside Hospital
- Springwoods Village Hospital
- Sugar Land Hospital
- The Vintage Hospital
- The Woodlands Hospital
Other regional CHI St. Luke’s facilities – https://www.chistlukeshealth.org/patient-portal-login
Houston Methodist – The Woodlands
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.
For more information on Coronavirus (COVID-19) click here
The Texas Department of State Health Services novel coronavirus webpage is now live.
Promoting a healthy, resilient community through health education, disease prevention, clinical services and emergency preparedness.
An integrated team that serves, educates and promotes health and resiliency throughout Montgomery County.
Public Health District Programs
The Public Health Clinic provides services in the core public health areas of tuberculosis diagnosis and treatment; provision of childhood and adult immunizations. HIV Testing; screening and treatment of Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis.
The epidemiology program provides a continuous, scalable response to disease notifications, and coordinates disease surveillance and investigations in Montgomery County. Epidemiology staff members provide ongoing health education to County medical professionals.
Medical Reserve Corps:
The Medical Reserve Corps unit utilizes medical and non-medical volunteers to strengthen Montgomery County’s public health, emergency response and community resiliency. The MRC unit plays a vital role to supplement the community’s existing emergency medical response capabilities and public health infrastructure.
The preparedness program supports a coordinated, collaborative health and medical response to local disasters. Through planning, training and exercises, preparedness staff members lead the community in preventing, preparing for, and responding to public health emergencies.
Do you need health care assistance? Visit the Indigent Care – Health Care Assistance Program (HCAP) website for more information.
Source: cdc.gov, mctxoem.gov, mchd-tx.org, capetowntravel.com