Clark County and UMC announced that Friday, July 31, is the last day drive-thru COVID-19 testing will be available inside the parking garage at UNLV's Tropicana Avenue parking garage. The testing operation is moving indoors to the Thomas & Mack Center's Strip View Pavilion, located on the northwest side of the facility off Tropicana Avenue and University Center Drive, and is scheduled to re-open during the second week of August.
Clark County and UMC are operating the site in partnership with the Nevada National Guard, UNLV and University Police Services. The testing site inside the Thomas & Mack Center will resume operations of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday when it re-opens.
"Clark County's staff at the Fire Department and UMC along with Nevada National Guard have done an amazing job operating the UNLV drive-through site since it opened at the end of May," said Clark County Commission Chairman Marilyn Kirkpatrick. "The new indoor operation will allow us to move out of the summer heat into a more comfortable setting for patients."
The type of testing available at community testing sites is polymerase chain reaction tests, better known as PCR tests, which show whether someone currently has COVID-19. Due to increased demand for testing, appointments will continue to be highly recommended to reduce wait times for patients and maintain operational efficiency. Appointments at the new Thomas & Mack indoor location will soon be available through UMC. As much as possible the public is encouraged to self-schedule appointments online through UMC's website at www.umcsn.com. From UMC's home page, click on the "UMC COVID-19 Testing Center" banner and select the "Public" option from the drop-down menu and chose the proper testing location. Those with no online access or limited access may call UMC at (702) 383-2619 to schedule appointments. The Thomas & Mack site will have a walk-up testing station to offer tests each day to some people on a first-come, first served basis without appointments based on available supplies and staffing. It also will be designed to have separate areas to accommodate those who arrive with and without symptoms. The community testing sites are open to the public, including children.
"UNLV has been a tremendous community partner in providing a location in the center of the Las Vegas Valley that allows for convenient, accessible COVID-19 testing," said Clark County Commissioner Jim Gibson, whose Commission District includes UNLV. "Testing continues to be an important means for us to track the impact of the pandemic in our community. We encourage people to stay home if they develop symptoms. Additionally, it's important for all of us to continue to wear face coverings in public, avoid large crowds, and wash hands regularly."
UMC recently adjusted its COVID-19 testing policies to reflect the latest CDC guidance and ensure that patients at the highest risk maintain convenient access to testing. The updated protocols will help UMC reduce unnecessary repeat testing while prioritizing access for community members with symptoms of COVID-19 and those who have been exposed to the virus. Repeat testing following an initial positive result has not shown to be an effective tool in determining when patients can safely discontinue isolation. UMC will follow CDC guidance by utilizing a time- and symptom-based strategy to determine when patients can discontinue isolation precautions. As a result of this guidance, UMC will no longer provide unnecessary follow-up tests after a positive result. To further reduce the number of unnecessary COVID-19 tests in the community, a patient with negative test results must wait 10 days before receiving another COVID-19 test from UMC. If community members develop symptoms of COVID-19 during this waiting period, they should seek medical care at a physician's office to determine the need for repeat testing. All patients who believe they have been exposed to the virus must continue to isolate at home during this waiting period. UMC has introduced a five-day waiting period for asymptomatic health care workers and first responders following negative test results, unless they develop symptoms of COVID-19 during the waiting period.
UMC asks community members to help the hospital prioritize the testing needs of symptomatic patients and those who have been exposed to confirmed positive patients. Whenever possible, UMC asks the public to please save the available public testing appointments for community members with symptoms of COVID-19 and those who have been exposed to the virus. Exposure is defined as spending 15 minutes or more within 6 feet of someone with an active COVID-19 infection, regardless of whether you or the other individual wore a face covering during the encounter. Community members should schedule their testing appointments five to seven days after being exposed to the virus. Testing prior to this time period may result in false negative results.
Since May 5, Clark County in partnership with the Southern Nevada Health District, UMC, the Nevada National Guard and local ambulance companies have conducted a total of 123,453 COVID-19 tests at various locations. The numbers include 103,878 tests at fixed community-based parking garage sites in Las Vegas and 19,575 mobile strike team tests throughout Southern Nevada at one and two-day testing events at schools, community centers and other locations. A calendar of testing events sponsored by the health district is available in English and Spanish on its website at www.SNHD.info/covid. The state of Nevada also has a COVID-19 test finding locator tool on its website at www.healthresponse.nv.gov that lists labs, pharmacies and other testing resources. Patients receive test results from the provider that performed their COVID-19 test, and all results, positive or negative are reported to the health district. Officials are working to significantly increase contract tracing and disease investigation efforts to follow up with patients who test positive for the virus and their contacts. Those who receive phone calls, texts or email notifications of a positive test result from the health district are encouraged to follow self-isolation instructions to limit the spread of the virus.
"Given the demand for testing and the longer amount of time it is taking to process test results from all providers, we recommend that people who believe they may have been exposed to the virus should begin staying home for 14 days out of an abundance of caution as they await test results," said Dr. Fermin Leguen, Acting Chief Health Officer of the Southern Nevada Health District. "This will help slow down the spread of COVID-19 in our community. We also recommend that anyone who begins experiencing severe symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest pains seek emergency medical attention immediately."
Those with general questions about COVID-19 can call the health district's Information Phone Line at (702) 759-INFO (4636), between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Anyone in need of social service support to self-isolate can contact Nevada 2-1-1 for resource referrals. Information about COVID-19 resources also is available in Spanish through the "Esta En Tus Manos" (It's in your hands) outreach initiative at estaentusmanosnevada.com. Additionally, the Community Health Center offers a free telehealth service by phone or computer for uninsured patients regardless of their ability to pay. More information is available on the Community Health Center website: www.southernnevadahealthdistrict.org/southern-nevada-community-health-center. UMC also provides telehealth COVID-19 assessments for symptomatic patients, with health care providers offering referrals for testing at UMC Quick Care locations. Call (702) 383-1800 to schedule an appointment or visit UMC's website to learn more.