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July 9, 2020

State to Physicians: More COVID-19 Testing

Updated July 24, 2020

Washington state, like many states around the country, is seeing an increasing number of COVID-19 infections. State officials continue to urge physicians and medical providers to increase testing to help the state identify those infected with the virus. Testing and contact tracing, together with a statewide mask mandate, are foundational components of the state's effort to combat the outbreak.

State officials expanded criteria for who should be tested for COVID-19 to include the mildly symptomatic and their close contacts (for the full criteria, download the DOH testing guidance for health care providers, updated June 28, 2020). Along with expanding testing criteria, Gov. Jay Inslee delivered a message directly to physicians and medical providers: If a patient comes to you with symptoms, get them tested. As the guidance states, symptomatic patients should be tested within 24 hours or referred to another testing site and provided guidance on the need to isolate (for ill persons) and self-quarantine (for exposed contacts).

How can physicians and providers help?

  • Test all persons with any symptom that could be consistent with COVID-19.
  • Test all close contacts (< 6 ft. of distance for > 15 minutes).
  • Use self-collected nasal swabs if the person is able to.
  • Complete all required information on requisition to include:
    • Complete contact information.
    • Race/ethnicity.
  • Provide public health centered counseling around:
    • What and how to isolate and quarantine.
    • Assess support needs.
    • How important it is to do this.
    • If they are positive that they will be contacted by public health and why it is important that they provide contact information.

Using in-state labs for COVID-19 testing 

The DOH is now strongly encouraging clinicians to use our in-state labs for COVID-19 testing so that we can shorten the turn-around time for test results. The following is a list of Washington-based labs that have confirmed their willingness to provide molecular COVID-19 testing to hospitals and clinics. Please feel free to reach out to these labs to discuss: Download the list of in-state laboratories and their contact information.

WSMA survey on testing and PPE

The state is still far from meeting its target goal for testing, a key metric in the state's response to COVID-19, with daily testing needing to more than double to meet the state's goal of 50 tests for each new case of novel coronavirus infection. The WSMA is helping state officials identify barriers faced by physicians and practices seeking to provide or ramp up testing. We recently surveyed our members on testing and PPE supply to help inform the state's response; the results are being reviewed and will be shared with state officials and with members shortly.

Testing and PPE resources

The following professional and patient resources are available to help physicians and practices with COVID-19 testing.

For physicians and providers

For your patients

Reimbursement for testing

  • COVID-19 Reimbursement - This WSMA webpage featured detailed guidance on reimbursement related to COVID-19 and the novel coronavirus.

Testing supplies

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

  • Contact your local emergency management agency to request and receive these items.
  • FDA-approved disposable ASTM Level 1 simple procedural masks - The WSMA has partnered with WSHA to make these masks available to medical groups and physician practices at bulk pricing, while stocks are available.
  • The AMA is now offering PPE, including N95 masks and disposable isolation gowns, to AMA members. Learn more.

Also, this week the WSMA released two new public service announcements featuring WSMA President Bill Hirota, MD, on "What your doctor wants you to know: Why wear a mask?" and "What your doctor wants you to know: How to wear a mask safely ." You can find the PSAs on WSMA's social media channels. Find all our PSAs and other COVID-19 resources on our website at wsma.org/covid19 (the PSAs are under Patient Education).

Join or renew your membership today