coronavirus covid-19 file photo

This photo shows the coronavirus that causes the disease known as COVID-19. 

Gwinnett residents who believe they may have the coronavirus disease known as COVID-19 might be asking what to do about getting tested.

The answer from local health department officials, for now at least, is that residents need to call their primary care doctor to find out if they need to be tested and to consult with them about what to do — and to not visit their doctor without calling first, according to Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale Health Departments spokesman Chad Wasdin. That recommendation is based off of recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Georgia Department of Public Health.

"COVID-19 testing is not available at health department clinics," Wasdin said.

A doctor's assessment of a patient plays a big role in testing right now. Although remote testing sites have begun to pop up around Georgia, including one location in Lawrenceville, a person must have a referral from their doctor to get tested, Gov. Brian Kemp announced on Monday.

And, even then, the state's testing priority right now is the elderly, long-term care facility workers, health care providers and public safety officers, firefighters and EMS workers.

The symptoms of COVID-19, according to the Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale Health Boards is fever, cough and shortness of breath.

Wasdin did have some advice for Gwinnett residents who think they may have the test, but can't get tested for it.

"Not everyone needs a test, even if they have symptoms," Wasdin said. "Those who are mildly ill should stay home and isolate from other family members for (seven) days since symptoms first appeared or for (three) days until they have no symptoms, whichever is longer."

The Georgia Department of Public Health is also urging residents who suspect they have the disease to reach out to people who have recently had close contact with to tell them to watch for signs on infection. They also recommend people who have symptoms stay in a separate room from other people they live with as much as possible, and to use a separate bathroom as much as possible.

But that doesn't mean local health department officials can't help residents who have questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wasdin said people who have questions about the disease can call 770-339-4260. They will be given a series of prompts when they call that number, which is intended to lead them to at least some answers about the disease.

State health officials have also set up a COVID-19 hotline at 844-442-2681.

The Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale Health Departments have also information about COVID-19, include "frequently asked questions" sections, available at www.gnrhealth.com/covid-19-info/.

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I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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