Lucas County to suspend COVID-19 testing to the public

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Facing a shortage of testing capabilities, the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department will no longer test the public for COVID-19.

In a Thursday press conference, Health Commissioner Eric Zgodzinski announced that the department was suspending testing to the public and would limit testing to first responders and healthcare workers. In a later statement, he clarified that members of the public who are in need of a test due to severe symptoms would still be able to be tested, but they would likely need to meet strict guidelines.

While explaining the reasons for the move, Zgodzinski said that the public needed to stop thinking about testing as a crucial part of the fight against the viral outbreak. Testing, he said, will not change prescribed treatment for symptoms and will not be a key factor in saving lives.

Instead, treatment is based on symptoms, rather than positive or negative test results, and right now there is no specific treatment for COVID-19.

If you or someone in your household becomes ill, the Health Department advises you to remain home and isolated for at least 14 days, rest, drink water, and use over the counter flu medications to treat symptoms.

Of course, if you have severe symptoms, you should contact your doctor, but Zgodzinski stressed that the public needs to refrain from flooding hospitals. Overwhelming the healthcare system would cause critical resources to become unavailable to those who need them.

Community testing facilities, like the drive-thru testing that was set up earlier this week, are being closed down for now, and those testing capabilities will be used to ensure first responders and front line healthcare workers remain healthy. The goal, according to the Health Department, is to make sure those people who are critical to fighting the illness and maintaining the health and safety of the public are still able to do their jobs.

During the press conference, health officials continued to stress the importance of simple preventive measures, such as washing your hands often, cleaning commonly touched surfaces frequently, and using hand sanitizer only when soap and water are not available. These measures, they said, are what will truly save lives during this crisis.