Canyonlands Healthcare will host free drive-thru covid-19 testing Saturday May 30 from 7 a.m. - 3 p.m. in the parking lot in front of Canyonlands clinic on the Cobre Valley Regional Medical Center campus in Globe.
Nasal swab tests will be offered, not antibody testing. Testing is free, no insurance or copayment required, but all participants will be required to wear a facemask - so make sure to bring yours, along with your driver’s license or official ID.
Also be prepared to have a long ‘nasopharyngeal swab’ (picture a six-inch-long Q-tip) inserted deep into your nasal cavity. The procedure lasts about 15 seconds, with the swab rotated for complete coverage, then swabbing is repeated on the other side of the nose to make sure enough material is collected. Swabs are sent to a lab for testing. No appointments will be taken for the drive-thru screenings -- which are offered on a ‘first come, first served’ basis, and for as long as testing supplies last.
The nasal swab test is the most widespread diagnostic for covid-19; this is the test one you’ve been hearing so much about. In fact as of last week more than a quarter-million (230,000) tests have been conducted across Arizona.
Public health researchers’ goal with widespread testing is to have more accurate statewide demographics - plus early warning of possible covid-19 clusters, before an outbreak occurs. Nasal swabs test a sample of mucus taken from a person’s nose or throat, looking for the telltale genetic markers showing a coronavirus infection. Tests use polymerase chain reaction, a technology more commonly known by the acronym ‘PCR’, which amplifies viral genetic material -- when its present, and detectable in an infected patient. Samples are sent to labs for analysis; participants who get tested in Globe on Saturday should be aware it can take several days to get results.
And are they accurate? Nasal swab tests are considered reliable, but a few days can pass before a virus starts to replicate in its human host -- so these tests do not identify one who has been infected very recently.
Nasal swab tests are the more common of two very different diagnostics for covid-19: viral tests and antibody tests. Nasal swab can reveal if you have a current infection, while the antibody test tells if you had a previous infection. It can take 1-3 weeks after infection for your body’s immune system to make antibodies, so antibody tests generally aren’t prescribed for patients who suspect a new or current infection.
Does the presence of antibodies to the virus protect you from reinfection? Epidemiologists are still studying that; read more at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: cdc.gov/coronavirus, and keep up-to-date on local Gila County statistics and information frequently posted at readygila.com. Join the ongoing community conversation, post any questions you have about covid-19, and read detailed answers from our own team of “disease detectives” at Gila County Health and Emergency Management’s page: facebook.com/gilacohealthem
Questions about the testing here in Globe next Saturday? Call Canyonlands Healthcare at 928-402-0491 during weekday business hours 7 a.m. - 6 p.m. (closed over lunch hour 12-1) or message Family Nurse Practitioner Jean Turney-Shaw via facebook.com/canyonlands.az