More COVID-19 testing may be coming to Franklin County, officials said during Wednesday’s county commission meeting.

The discussion came a day before the county identified the county’s eighth and ninth positive cases of COVID-19. Both cases are women, one in her 50s and one in her 60s, and only one of the cases is travel related.

Midge Ransom, Franklin County Health Department director, said the COVID-19 testing is stringent, which has made it harder to determine the exact spread in the county.

“We have continued to do testing and work with partners to assure we can do as much testing as possible on our residents,” Ransom said. “The testing criteria is strict. It requires hospitalization or direct contact that is proven to be COVID.”

Alan Radcliffe, Franklin County Emergency Management director, said the virus is more widespread than the positive cases found so far.

“We are not able to do the testing that needs to be done,” he said. ‘We are trying very hard to get more tests in.”

Ransom ordered serologic tests, which are blood tests that can detect the presence of antibodies against a microorganism. This test can determine whether a person has been exposed to a particular microorganism.

“We are going to try and use (these) so we can test more broadly and more rapidly,” Ransom said. “We would have results in 15 or 30 minutes. That can help us. You are testing for antigens so you could tell whether people have been exposed and gotten over it or currently active with the disease. This kind of testing would be beneficial for us in this community.”

Ransom said the cost for each test is $33 and is not covered by insurance.

She added the test results do provide valuable information in fighting to curb COVID-19.

Ransom said the stay-at-home orders are helping slow the disease.

“It is estimated that the measures we have taken are working,” she said. “We are not growing as rapidly as predicted last week. That is real positive.

“It is so important we wash our hands. It is the single most important thing anyone can do.”

Radcliffe said by being proactive today can pay dividends in a few weeks.

“The stay-at-home order is very important to take serious,” he said. “By not doing the stay-at-home order now that is going to create problems two or three weeks down the road. We will continue to battle this if we don’t flatten the curve.”

Conserving protective equipment

Personal protective equipment for first responders and health care workers is scarce, county officials said.

“No, it is not adequate,” Ransom said. “We are having trouble getting it. They have enough for the moment. Some of our providers had zero when we started this. All the providers are trying very hard to utilize carefully the gear they have.”

Radcliffe said the state is allowing them to have a 14-day supply on hand.

“We are trying to do as much planning ahead as we can,” he said. “We are prioritizing at the county level for our health care workers and first responders to make sure they have what they need. We are trying to preserve as much personal protective equipment as we can at this point in the county.”

He said that is being done in two ways. Doctors were putting off elective surgeries and providing education on when it is necessary to use the PPE.

The county has received donations from various businesses and schools, Radcliffe said.

He said schools have provided leftover disinfecting wipes and businesses donated disinfectant supplies.

“We are capturing all that we can and we are pushing it out to where it needs to be,” Radcliffe said. “We are trying to stockpile what our needs are in the next two weeks to a month.”