Home News COVID-19 Situation Options expanding for local COVID-19 testing

Options expanding for local COVID-19 testing

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Juno Ogle Photo Employees of the New Mexico Department of Health operate a drive-through COVID-19 testing site Wednesday on the south side of Walmart, 4500 N. Main St. The site is open to anyone wanting to be tested and also will be open Thursday.

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

The state of New Mexico is expanding COVID-19 testing in anticipation of a phased opening to the economy.

While the emphasis for testing is on workers, any New Mexican can get tested whether or not they are showing symptoms or suspect they have been exposed to the coronavirus.

“The decision was made as testing capacity has increased and there’s goals to increase it even more so,” David Morgan, public information officer for the New Mexico Health Department, said in an email to the Roswell Daily Record.

“There is also anticipation, as the state of New Mexico looks to start reopening the economy in phases, that workers should know their status prior to returning to the workforce,” he wrote.

“We’re still trying to focus on priority groups, those being your grocery store, your healthcare, utility, daycare workers,” said Jimmy Masters, program manager at the Roswell office of the Health Department.

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Those working in other fields such as convenience or retail should consider testing now, too, he said.

Health Department workers were at Walmart, 4500 N. Main St., Wednesday operating a drive-through test site open to the public and planned to be there again Thursday, 7 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Testing is also at the Roswell Health Department office by calling 575-624-6050 and pressing 0 to schedule an appointment or to arrange testing at a site.

Appointments are generally made between 8:30 and 11:30 a.m., Monday through Friday, Masters said.

La Casa Family Health Center is also offering COVID-19 testing at two locations in Roswell from 9 to 11 a.m. Monday through Thursday, according to the state Health Department website. Appointments can be made at Los Niños Pediatrics, 200 W. Wilshire Blvd., by calling 575-622-5956 or La Casa Family Health Center, 1511 S. Grand Ave., by calling 575-623-3255.

Eastern New Mexico Medical Center offers tests in its emergency department. Dr. Thomas Wulf, director of the emergency department, said they have two types of tests — a traditional nose swab that takes 24 to 48 hours for results, and a rapid test from Abbott Labs, which received emergency authorization in March from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It returns a positive result in five minutes and a negative result in about 15 minutes.

Due to a limited number of the rapid tests, ENMMC will be selective in using those, Wulf said, but the nasal swab tests are readily available.

“Anybody that comes into the emergency department asking for a test, we’re going to test them,” he said.

Wulf expressed concern people might avoid seeking treatment for emergency health needs from fear of being exposed to the COVID-19 in an emergency room. He said those fears are unfounded.

“I’m not an advocate of people coming to the ER for primary care, but if you think you need to be evaluated by a professional, don’t be afraid to go to the ER,” he said. “You’re not going to catch COVID in the ER.”

Everyone who comes to the emergency room at ENMMC is screened before entering, and there are further precautions once someone is allowed inside the ER.

“If they’re screened in, they go to a completely isolated, separated place here in the emergency department and get tested,” he said.

The hospital staff takes steps to ensure there’s no contamination from COVID patients to non-COVID patients as well, he said.

“You’re not going to get the same person in the same PPE (personal protective equipment) seeing a COVID patient and then walk into the room of a non-COVID patient,” Wulf said.

ENMMC has begun this week some outpatient imaging services and is making plans for a gradual reopening of areas of the hospital, said Brooke Linthicum, marketing director for ENMMC.

“We’re going back through for all of the patients that were scheduled and had to cancel and starting to bring them back in. It’s going to be a very slow process. We’re not doing it all at once,” she said.

Lovelace Regional Hospital is also making plans to reopen more areas of the hospital, Communications Manager Whitney Marquez said in an email to the Daily Record. She said more information would be released after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s press conference Wednesday afternoon.

To keep up with local coverage of the coronavirus, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/covid-19-situation/.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.