Cone Health, the largest hospital system in Guilford County, has an abundance of Covid-19 test kits.

“We have plenty, and don’t have any trouble getting access to the testing kits to obtain samples,” said Dr. Bruce Swords, the chief physician executive for Cone Health, although he did know the exact number. “The test kits for Covid-19 are very similar to test kits for obtaining samples for other upper respiratory illnesses.”

Iulia Vann, Guilford County’s interim health director, said yesterday that her agency has three test kits, with a commitment from the state Department of Health and Human Services to replace them if they’re used. Additionally, Vann said also said the county public health department has received an unspecified number of test kits from a commercial vendor.

About 430 physicians across the county also have access to test kits, said Worley Smith, a spokesperson for Guilford County.

To date, Dr. Swords said Cone Health has performed 10 tests for Covid-19, and none have come back positive. He added that it’s possible that tests have been performed in outpatient settings without his knowledge. The vast majority of the tests are sent to LabCorp, a private vendor, but some are sent to the state lab. The turnaround time for the tests is 48 hours, at most.

Cone Health holds the dominant market share of health services in Guilford County, with Moses Cone Hospital, Wesley Long Hospital and Behavioral Hospital in Greensboro, along with Alamance Regional Medical Center in Burlington and Annie Penn Hospital in Reidsville. Spokesperson Doug Allred said Cone Health served 565 patients in Guilford County on Friday, including emergency room visits. High Point Medical Center is part of a Wake Forest Baptist Health, a competing hospital group.

“Patients who present to Cone Health will be evaluated for their clinical symptoms and also evaluated for their exposure to Covid-19,” Dr. Swords said. “If they meet the criteria, they will be tested, regardless of their insurance status.”

Swords said he wants “the public to know that the communities that are served by Cone Health have access to appropriate testing.” He added, “I think it’s also important for the community to know they have a role in preventing the spread of Covid-19 by performing diligent handwashing, not touching their face, and staying away from large crowds. As a partner with us, they have a chance to prevent this spread of Covid-19.”

In other news related to the pandemic, the city of Greensboro and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Utilities announced water disconnections are being suspended in cases of nonpayment by customers. The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Utilities Department announced that the suspension will remain in effect until further notice, while noting that customers will still be responsible for payment of their total water bill. The city of Greensboro is suspending water disconnections through the end of March, but Mayor Nancy Vaughan said the suspension might be extended depending on conditions.

Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas also announced that they’re “suspending disconnections for nonpayment effective immediately” considering that “many of our customers may be facing unusual financial hardship.”

UPDATE, March 17, 4:31 p.m.: The Guilford County Public Health Department reported the county’s first case of COVID-19 on March 17. The patient had returned to Guilford County from Orlando, Fla. when they began experiencing symptoms. The county reports that the patient is self-quarantining.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Three test kits… an undisclosed number from a manufacturer… patient will be tested regardless of insurance status…

    When I started reading this article, I thought it was a joke and had to re-read a few times to see if I was really reading what I was reading. This is a disgrace. Cone Health is NOT on your side; you seem to be saying you have 3 test kits and some “undisclosed number” of kits from a manufacturer (for-profit)?! What are you TALKING about “no lack?”

    Also, the director “does not know the exact number.” What do you mean?? How is that an acceptable position?

    “Patient will be tested regardless of insurance status” = you’ll get a big bill later. Pay it or let it go to collections and then your credit will be trashed.

    In a few days we will be overwhelmed with rampant infection. This article is denial and disrespect.

    This system is SO wrong! I am more certain of this now than ever before! We have a choice in this matter, and we don’t have to tolerate this anymore!

  2. “We have plenty, and don’t have any trouble getting access to the testing kits to obtain samples”
    “although he did know the exact number”
    “her agency has three test kits”
    “has received an unspecified number of test kits from a commercial vendor”
    “The test kits for Covid-19 are very similar to test kits for obtaining samples for other upper respiratory illnesses.”
    “Cone Health holds the dominant market share of health services in Guilford County”
    “If they meet the criteria, they will be tested, regardless of their insurance status.”

    When I first started reading this article I thought it was a satire; I had to re-read a few times to be sure of what I was seeing. I’ll say it again:

    “We have plenty, and don’t have any trouble getting access to the testing kits to obtain samples”
    –What does “plenty” mean? I don’t believe you. Don’t have any trouble…I would hope so! What are you talking about?!

    “although he did know the exact number”
    –I don’t know if this is a typo or not (did/didn’t?) Regardless, what are you talking about?! If the did know the exact number, why is it not being stated here? What is being hidden?! If he didn’t know the exact number, how is that an acceptable position?!

    “her agency has three test kits”
    –WHAT are you TALKING ABOUT?!? I had to reread this one several times!

    “has received an unspecified number of test kits from a commercial vendor”
    –Why is this number a secret? What is being hidden? I’ll assume there are not enough!

    “The test kits for Covid-19 are very similar to test kits for obtaining samples for other upper respiratory illnesses.”
    –How is this relevant? What are you talking about… (shaking my head)

    “Cone Health holds the dominant market share of health services in Guilford County”
    –How DARE you talk about your market share right now. The nerve. The disrespect.

    “If they meet the criteria, they will be tested, regardless of their insurance status.”
    –This means that as usual, you will receive a bill after your hospital visit–this is how it works anyway! So you have to go in to get tested with the understanding that you will get a big bill later, which you will either have to pay or accept that it will go to collections, which means that your credit score will decrease dramatically.

    Right now COVID-19 is spreading EXPONENTIALLY all around us. The working class has no sick leave or a poor substitute for it, fraught with terms and conditions and of inadequate time. Underpaid, regularly disrespected workers will be UNABLE–I repeat–UNABLE to stop working if they have symptoms…But more pressingly than that, we know that the disease is primarily being spread by people without symptoms…if corporations are not even willing to make it easy for a sick person to leave work, who are we kidding to think that their greed would ever consider taking a hiatus for needed preventative measures–those which are our best hope right now??

    This is unbelievable, this is a disgrace, this is a BASIC and flagrant disrespect and disregard of human dignity.

    Cone Health is NOT on your side; Triad City Beat is apparently more than happy to report this to you, with a poison coating. This system is SO wrong! I hope we survive it! I won’t count on these systems to ensure we do, though!

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