At a special meeting on March 30, the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners authorized a program for additional COVID-19 testing in an amount not to exceed $400,000. The funding will come from the county’s general fund reserves to be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, if allowable.
Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE) needs data to better estimate case counts, understand the impacts of COVID-19 on subpopulations including children and their role in transmission, the role of pre- and asymptomatic transmission, and the case fatality rate. This will guide mitigation strategies and ensure that the best use of healthcare resources and critical care infrastructure are made in the days ahead.
Due to limited testing up until this point, which has been focused on those individuals who are hospitalized and at high risk, the level of community transmission is unknown. More widespread testing through drive thru clinics in Johnson County will provide a better picture of the extent of coronavirus spread within the community. JCDHE is also planning to gather more information through community wide symptom reporting which may be used to identify additional individuals for testing as resources allow.
While there is a desire to provide testing for everyone, that is not feasible. The sampling process will provide a good way to determine the prevalence of COVID-19 in Johnson County and along with the monitoring of the health care system capacity, to make future decisions. Messages will be sent to a randomized sample pool within the community with a short survey and an invitation to get tested. This process will ensure broad demographic and geographic sampling.
Only one person from a family or household will be tested. JCDHE wants to test people experiencing symptoms as well as people who are asymptomatic in order to get a complete picture of the effect of COVID-19 on the community.
Over the period of the next few weeks, JCDHE will be taking additional samples in order to monitor trends and further refine assumptions about the situation in Johnson County. JCDHE will then be able to evaluate the mitigation efforts and make data-driven decisions on future interventions. This is part of the broader efforts to reduce the spread in the county.
When and where?
Locations are currently being determined and will be communicated as soon as possible. Logistics continue to be planned. Turnaround time for results is approximately five days.
JCDHE staff will be responsible for collecting the specimen samples and information from the individuals being tested. Johnson County is entering into contracts with laboratories to provide testing materials, receive samples, analyze specimens and report the results.