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COVID-19 testing

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COVID-19 testing

As coronavirus cases continue to rise across Iowa, including in Pottawattamie and Shelby Counties, increasing numbers of residents are seeking important COVID-19 information, including where to get tested should they develop symptoms of the disease.

Local and state officials say there are a number of options for virus testing. Area residents need look no further than right up the road in Harlan, the closest testing site, to schedule an appointment and talk to a nurse to evaluate symptoms.

Myrtue Medical Center officials say it’s the best way to get a COVID-19 test. Call the medical center’s main clinic number at 712-755-5130 to schedule an appointment for a test.

“Staff will ask screening questions before giving further instructions on appropriate testing options depending on your symptoms,” officials said this week. “Testing is being provided at the rural health clinic in Harlan.

“For the health and safety of our patients and employees, please do not go directly to the clinic or the emergency room. Talk to a Myrtue nurse to learn about your next steps for care.”

Drive-thru testing clinic/Test Iowa

After talking with the nurse, residents may have an option for a telehealth visit and receive testing at our drive-thru testing clinic. A telehealth visit is a real-time, virtual visit with a provider simply using an existing mobile device or computer, from the comfort of home, or wherever you may be.

Depending on your needs, the nurse will determine whether a telehealth visit and drive-thru testing is the best option. A drive-thru testing clinic requires an appointment and an order from a provider. The nurse will give further instructions on the dates and times of the drive-through clinic.

On Thursday, Nov. 19, there will be a free drive-through COVID-19 testing site at Myrtue Medical Center’s Public Health, 1209 12th Street, Harlan. Appointments are required by calling 712-755-4422. You need to have symptoms for 1-7 days to receive this testing.

“Protecting our community through testing is a priority,” said Lori Hoch, RN, BSN, Myrtue Medical Center Public Health Director. “Testing is critical to quickly identify and treat those infected by the coronavirus. Early detection and treatment improves health outcomes for the infected and allows for timely tracing and quarantining of close contacts. People that are exposed to this infectious disease are likely to become ill, furthering the spread of COVID. All these measures are necessary to stop the uncontrolled surge of COVID cases currently experienced in Shelby County and beyond,” said Hoch.

Test Iowa is another option for COVID-19 testing. It offers testing sites throughout Iowa in different communities. Typically, the test results take a bit longer due to the volume of testing. You can find the sites and schedule at

Residents will have to complete an assessment and schedule an appointment to be tested at any Test Iowa site.

Pottawattamie County has a site at the Western Historic Trails Center, 3434 Richard Downing Ave., Council Bluffs. The testing site is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. A Test Iowa Clinic also is available at All Care Health Center, 902 S. 6th St., Council Bluffs, open Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m.-noon and 1-4:30 p.m. Schedule online after completing the assessment at Test Iowa.

Cass County has a Test Iowa Clinic at the Cass County Health System, 1501 East 10th St., Atlantic. The site is open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Questions can be answered by calling 712-250-8297.

Who should get tested?

• People who have symptoms of COVID-19

• People who have had close contact (within 6 feet of an infected person for 15 consecutive minutes or more without both the case and the contact wearing a facemask) with someone with confirmed COVID-19 at least 2 days after their exposure.

• People who have been asked or referred to get testing by their healthcare provider.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus and testing is the most accurate when symptoms are present. Symptoms include: Runny nose, Fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea.

What to do after a test?

If you test positive for COVID-19, know what protective steps to take.

You will be notified and instructed to self-isolate to help prevent further spread of COVID-19. Persons waiting for their COVID-19 test results should stay home, preferably in self-isolation away from others in the house if possible, until notified of your test results. Other members of the household should also quarantine until test results are known.

If the COVID-19 test is positive, you will be asked to remain in self isolation for a minimum of 10 days from your onset of symptoms, and you are fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medications, and your symptoms are significantly improved.

If the COVID-19 test is negative and you are NOT a close contact of someone that tested positive for COVID, you should stay home until your symptoms have gone away and you have no fever for at least 24 hours off any fever-reducing medications such as acetaminophen.

If you are a close contact of someone that tested positive for COVID and your test results are negative, you will need to continue the 14-day quarantine period. The incubation period for the coronavirus is 14 days, and contacts may become ill at any point during the quarantine period. If you develop symptoms later, you may need another test to determine if you are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

If you develop any trouble breathing or your symptoms become worse, you should call your healthcare provider right away.

Federal law requires private insurers, Medicare and Medicaid to cover COVID-19 tests without any cost to the patient and provides funding to support free testing for some people without health insurance.

If you have questions about testing or COVID-19, please contact a Myrtue nurse at 712-755-5130.