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Westfield providing rapid COVID-19 field tests for acutely ill patients

WESTFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — Westfield will launch central Indiana’s first COVID-19 field testing program on Tuesday in an effort to reduce community spread and strain on local hospitals.

The city will dispatch paramedics trained to conduct rapid antigen tests when “acutely ill” residents with COVID-19 symptoms request an ambulance.

Test results will be available on-site within 15 minutes.

The Abbott test kits, provided by the Hamilton County Health Department, use nasal swabs similar to the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Swab samples are combined with a reagent solution and inserted in the test card. 

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One or two lines will appear in the result window, indicating whether the test detected the presence of SARS-CoV-2 proteins. The “gold-standard” PCR test detects the virus’s genetic material.

“I think some people are fearful of going to the hospital because of the second surge, so this gives us an option to hopefully address some of those patients’ concerns [and] get them some answers,” said Patrick Hutchison, the Westfield Fire Department’s EMS division chief.

Residents who test positive will either be given resources to manage symptoms while quarantining at home or transported to a hospital for further treatment.

The rapid field testing program is not for asymptomatic individuals or people reporting mild symptoms, Hutchison emphasized.

“We don’t want people to call 911 and have us replace a walk-up test site or a drive-by test site,” he said.

Approximately 80% of the city’s EMS calls are covid-related. Officials cautioned against flooding the dispatch line with test requests for non-acute cases.

Look for a free testing site near you on the state health department’s website.

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