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ADPH expands categories of people eligible for COVID-19 testing, including all who have pre-existing conditions

The Alabama Department of Public Health announced Wednesday that certain new groups of people are eligible for COVID-19 testing, including all Alabamians who have underlying medical conditions making them more vulnerable to the virus.

Data from the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 43.1% of Alabamians over age 18 have a health condition that puts them at higher risk for becoming seriously ill due to the coronavirus.

Before Wednesday’s announcement, the only people eligible for testing through the ADPH were those currently experiencing symptoms.

The ADPH said in a release, “By widening the conditions to test high-risk people before symptoms appear, the risk of continued transmission of the virus is lessened and timely case investigations and contact tracing can begin earlier.”

Pre-existing conditions, also called underlying conditions, include heart disease, diabetes, lung disease and kidney disease.

Other categories, in addition to those with pre-existing conditions, that are now eligible for testing include as follows:

  • Patient is a resident of a long-term care facility and the facility has laboratory-confirmed cases in residents or staff.
  • Hospitalized patients with symptoms.
  • Healthcare facility workers, workers in congregate living settings, and first responders with symptoms.
  • Residents in long-term care facilities or other congregate living settings, including correctional and detention facilities and shelters, with symptoms.
  • Persons without symptoms who have a disability placing them at a higher risk of complications.
  • Residency in a congregate housing setting such as a homeless shelter or long-term care facility.
  • Screening of other asymptomatic individuals based on a case-by-case review and approval by the state health department or local health jurisdiction.

The department says a health care provider can order a test for anyone, but they should use a commercial or clinical laboratory if the patient does not meet the established criteria.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: [email protected] or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

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