New Hampshire working to increase coronavirus testing

Published: Apr. 29, 2020 at 4:17 PM EDT
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In order to ramp up testing across the region, New Hampshire is opening five new testing sites, including one in Claremont.

"Increased testing really allows us to get at the heart of the issue," said Gov. Chris Sununu, R-New Hampshire.

National Guard soldiers are staffing the new testing sites seven days a week. The goal is to increase testing capacity across the Granite State to 1,500 tests a day.

The governor says anyone who needs a test should be able to get one.

"In New Hampshire, anyone with symptoms for COVID-19 can call their medical provider and undergo an evaluation for a test. And in many cases, your health care provider has the ability to perform the test themselves," Sununu said.

Sites like the one in Claremont help fill in the gaps.

The increased testing comes as good news to those in the medical field.

"We can keep our patients working. Therefore, they have insurance to pay for their services. We can keep the economy moving," said Cecilia Vicuna-Keady, a nurse practitioner at the Keady Family Practice.

The Keady Family Practice in Claremont has been testing for weeks now. But they are not just looking for active COVID cases. They are also testing for antibodies in the blood that show people have had the coronavirus and recovered.

"We want to see the penetration of this disease," Vincuna-Keady said. "We want to see how far this disease has gone to, people who didn't think they had COVID."

At this time, medical professionals say the accuracy of antibody tests is still not known. Only a few labs across the country are doing antibody testing. But those on the front lines of the pandemic, whether it's a family practice or pop-up testing site, say it all adds to the knowledge of how to fight the disease.

"Do we do contact tracing after antibody? No, we don't. That's not what the CDC recommended. We do contact tracing with an active infection because you want to isolate and contain that infection," Vicuna-Keady said.

New Hampshire Sen.Maggie Hassan says while states take the lead on testing, there still needs to be a coordinated national strategy when it comes to supply management and analyzing the results in the event of another pandemic.