Nevada Gets Additional Coronavirus Test Kits But More Needed

Testing Limited To Those That Show Most Serious Symptoms

Associated Press
April 08, 2020 - 5:08 am
A helper of local doctor Volker Eissing assists and register a swab sample for coronavirus testing at Eissing's temporary office located in a container on March 23, 2020

David Hecker/Getty Images

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Governor Steve Sisolak says Nevada has received some parts from the federal government to make more test kits for the coronavirus but the state does not have anywhere near the supplies needed to test widely.

Amid a nationwide shorting of test kits for the coronavirus, the U.S. government has told Nevada its three pending requests for more kits are on an “indefinite backlog,” according to state officials.

Sisolak said at a news conference Monday night that the state received 3,000 kits of the chemicals needed and 4,000 swabs from the U.S. government, which state health labs are using with other supplies to assemble test kits as fast they can, but it’s not enough. 

“While we appreciate whatever testing components we get from the federal government, at this time,” the Democratic governor said, the supplies so far “are not nearly the volume necessary for us to perform the desired amount of testing that we want and our citizens want.”

Nevada, with a population of over 3 million people, has had less than 19,000 people tested for the virus so far, or .006 of the state’s population, through either government or commercial labs. 

So far, more than 2,100 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Nevada and 72 people have died. 

Nevada received permission from the FDA on March 23 to start reviewing and approving newly developed tests, but the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the state health lab, did not respond to multiple inquiries about the status of any new tests. Spokeswoman Shannon Litz said in an email that the state created a policy about approving new tests but did not offer more information about whether any new tests were being developed. 

With tests in short supply, the state has asked doctors and health officials to prioritize testing for those hospitalized with symptoms of the virus, along with those who work in health care or public safety or people who were in group settings like schools, shelters and institutions where the virus could spread more quickly. 

Stephanie Bethel, a spokeswoman for the Southern Nevada Health District, said the Las Vegas-area health district has recommended that doctors prioritize patients considered higher risk. The health district is also asking doctors who seek testing for their patients to have those patients tested through commercial labs. The health district is separately testing close contacts of people who have already tested positive for COVID-19.