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TestNebraska initiative gets underway

Posted at 6:30 PM, May 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-05 08:55:10-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — UPDATE:

Dozens of people made their way to the CHI Health Center Monday afternoon to be tested for COVID-19.

"We put a slender swab up to the nose to the back where the nose and the throat connect (it's not comfortable) only takes a couple 10 seconds it feels longer, but we get a good specimen then so we know for sure we've got where the virus likes to live," Dr. Michael Schooff said.

Dr. Michael Schooff, who's the primary care medical director for CHI Health Clinic says the testing will help public health officials better assess how, and where, the virus is impacting Nebraskans the most.

"[We'll find out] how many people do have it, where do they have it, especially those that are asymptomatic or minimally-symptomatic then we can target better interventions, [and] we can target specific groups more," Dr. Schoof said.

CHI partnered with the National Guard to set the testing site.

"It's definitely a very different threat than what we're used to but we were able to quickly adapt and be prepared to provide this capability for the state," Major Joseph Eggen said.

Eggen says they've done more than 10,000 tests throughout the entire state.

He says their main goal is to ensure testing runs smoothly, and safely.

"It's about taking care of the population that's most at risk," Eggen said. "So following all of the regulations that are coming out from the governor and local health departments is critical to stopping this and slowing the spread."

Those working on the front lines, like health care workers and first-responders were priority on Monday.

"We know that our health care providers our first-responders, those people who work at nursing homes, we know that we really need to find them if they have the disease so they don't spread to others when they need to be out around vulnerable people," Dr. Schooff said.

Schooff tells 3 News Now he anticipates more testing will open up for vulnerable populations in the coming days.

Testing will take place at the CHI Health Center through Saturday.

The results are being sent to CHI Health St. Elizabeth in Lincoln, officials tell 3 News Now results should come back within 48 hours.

ORIGINAL:

More people in the state of Nebraska will have greater access to COVID-19 testing. The Test Nebraska initiative began downtown on Monday.

Testing was a joint effort between health care workers from CHI and the National Guard. Monday was the first day of testing.

A mobile medical tent was set up in the parking lot at CHI Health Center, making testing safe and quick. People simply drove through the tent to get their nose swabbed, from their cars and were on their way.

Dr. Michael Schoof, the primary care health director for CHI, says it's an uncomfortable test but only takes about 10 seconds.

The first round of testing was for health care workers and first responders who signed up online through the Test Nebraska site.

Schooff also says expanded testing will give the state a better look of how and where the virus is spreading the most.

"If you know you have COVID, you'll probably do a little bit of better job of isolating yourself,” he said. “But I think where the greatest benefits comes is for our public health -- our county, our health departments, our state health department...they get a better picture because of all this testing of really is this disease in Nebraska."

Schoof went on to say the testing will also allow the state to target better interventions and specific groups.