The Alabama Department of Public Health has expanded the criteria to test for COVID-19 to add testing for certain asymptomatic, high-risk groups and individuals in state laboratories.
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. The change in testing policy comes after recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Symptoms of COVID-19 consist of either cough or difficulty breathing or at least two of the following: fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell.
The new testing criteria allows symptomatic and asymptomatic residents of a long-term care facility where there has been a confirmed COVID-19 case.
Others who can be tested are 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 underlying medical conditions or 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; or screening of other asymptomatic individuals based on a case-by-case review and approval by the state health department or local health jurisdiction.
Medical providers may order testing for persons not meeting the above criteria but are asked to use a commercial or clinical laboratory with which they have an agreement.