POCATELLO — Portneuf Medical Center has started offering drive-through COVID-19 testing as a convenient new option for patients, and testing done on the Idaho State University campus has been moved to the north side of Holt Arena, which should be easier for the public to find.
Public health officials have been concerned recently by the trend of rising COVID-19 cases, both statewide and in Southeast Idaho. Southeastern Idaho Public Health confirmed 25 new cases on Thursday, including 11 in Bingham County, seven in Bannock County, five in Power County, one in Franklin County and one in Caribou County.
Officials said 546 patients of the the 686 total confirmed and probable cases in the region to date have already recovered. The region also recently experienced its fourth death to COVID-19. The individual was a man in his 90s from Bannock County. He had been hospitalized due to complications with COVID-19.
A Southeastern Idaho Public Health official said the region is still far from approaching the threshold for changing the community’s official risk level. For example, Bannock County would require 88 new COVID-19 cases for three consecutive days before moving into the moderate risk level.
Statewide, Idaho confirmed 567 new cases on Thursday, bringing the state’s total number of confirmed and probable cases since the start of the pandemic to 20,246. Idaho has also confirmed 177 deaths to COVID-19.
PMC officials said in a press release they’ll be offering the drive-through testing outside of the northwest corner of the hospital’s emergency department from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. PMC advised patients to first obtain an order from a primary care provider to minimize the required paperwork, though a doctor’s order is not required.
Laboratory workers will come out to people’s cars to conduct the test by using a nasopharyngeal swab to collect samples from the back of a person’s nose and throat. Results are returned in between four and 10 days.
The testing offered by ISU, Express Lab and Southeastern Idaho Public Health will be moved out of Dyer Hall to its new location at Holt Arena on Monday. The current testing site will close at 1 p.m. Friday to prepare for the move and will resume normal operations — from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. — at the new location.
The testing is for current infections only and is done by a nasal swab. Patients must have a doctor’s order. In addition to a private provider, people may call the Southeastern Idaho Public Health Hotline at 208-234-5875 to be screened and have a test ordered. Testing is covered by most insurance companies, but Southeastern Idaho Public Health will cover the $95 cost of testing for those without insurance. Test results will be sent to a patient’s care provider.