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COVID-19 testing for first responders, city workers and assisted living workers in Carmel

The City of Carmel is coordinating COVID-19 testing for first responders, city workers and assisted living workers.

CARMEL, Ind. (WTHR) — The City of Carmel is coordinating COVID-19 testing for first responders, city workers and assisted living workers.

The City of Carmel said central Indiana is in a unique position to be able to provide COVID-19 tests, and that’s a position the city wants to take advantage of.

Indianapolis laboratory Aria Diagnostics is now offering COVID-19 testing, and the results take 24-48 hours, according to the reference lab.

According to Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard, testing allows the city to do two important things:

  1. Slow down the onslaught of cases the hospitals are going to see over the next two to three weeks here in central Indiana
  2. Buy time for the scientific community to devise treatments and hopefully a vaccine, eventually a vaccine

“Even though this is the best test available, it has an 80 percent accuracy rate — 20 percent of the tests give you a false negative — which is why a lot of the health care facilities are testing people twice before they return them to work,” Mayor Brainard said.

Mayor Brainard said knowing whether one has COVID-19 is essential because treating and following CDC guidelines for isolation are pertinent to slowing the spread of the new coronavirus. And that’s why he says he consulted with medical professionals because he wanted to offer these tests to those who are most at risk in his community — which the city is now doing.

“EMS workers, they’re wearing the N95 masks, but they’re most at risk. Then, we started testing all of our first responders, police officers, others," Mayor Brainard said. "Then, we moved to all city employees and they’re dependents that are on our health insurance plan."

As of Friday, Mayor Brainard said they've started making testing available to the most at-risk population, which includes elder care facilities, nursing homes and assisting living workers.

He hopes to be able to expand the program in the future to include essential workers, including “people that are working in the pharmacy and the grocery stores, in the essential businesses.”

Mayor Brainard said 300 people have been tested so far, and testing will continue Saturday and all of next week.

“We’ve tested about 300 so far and are continuing to test throughout this evening (Friday), tomorrow (Saturday) and all through next week,” said the mayor.

The city said it is paying for the COVID-19 tests out its health insurance plan, so it should be reimbursable under the new federal law that was passed. The Mayor said Carmel’s health insurance is self-funded by workers and tax payers, and that the “fund had a good healthy balance of around $2 million.”

The mayor said testing itself and testing per person isn’t going to be enough when it comes to preventing the spread of COVID-19.

“We have to repeatedly give these tests to our employees that are interacting with the public,” Mayor Brainard said.

Mayor Brainard also said a negative COVID-19 test doesn't replace social distancing or give the all-clear to do the normal every day activities.

“We have to work on physically distancing ourselves. And we have to continue to wash our hands,” said Mayor Brainard. “It’s interesting, even though we have all these businesses closed, water usage is still up, so I thought ‘good, people are doing what they’re being asked to do,’ which is wash their hands.”

Mayor Brainard said what this diagnostic lab is offering is a great tool for central Indiana. And it’s one that the mayor said other states are not as fortunate to have.

Aria labs allows anyone to submit a test form for COVID-19 testing on their website.

COVID-19 tests are $175 cash, and tests that include a respiratory pathogen panel are $500, according to the lab’s website.