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Quest contract will boost testing for veterans, NDOC

The Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public and Behavioral Health recently secured and launched a $10 million contract with Quest Diagnostics for COVID-19 testing through the end of the year to support ongoing efforts at the Nevada Department of Corrections and state veterans’ homes.

This contract will help reduce the burden on the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory, where NDOC testing currently accounts for 26% of the total number of tests. With the diversion of testing to Quest through the end of the year, there should be a notable decrease in turnaround time for other entities that continue to send specimens to the NSPHL.

This contract is supported through the state’s allocation of CARES relief funds and will cover 100,000 molecular tests throughout the state with the goal of reducing test result turnaround time for laboratories statewide. In addition to institutional settings, such as correctional and skilled nursing facilities that complete a high volume of tests, testing through Quest will be available to county partners experiencing surges in cases and increased demand.

As part of the contract, Quest provides the delivery of collection kits to each facility as well as the courier and processing once the specimens have been completed.

The priority for this testing will be institutional settings, and the prioritization of these facilities is one tool to help officials prevent the spread of the virus and protect vulnerable populations.

The contract comes at a time when Nevada is experiencing an increased surge in cases statewide, including in correctional facilities.

This week, 79 offenders at the Humboldt Conservation Camp in Winnemucca tested positive for COVID-19. All 95 offenders at the camp, which is supervised by Lovelock Correctional Center, were tested on Nov. 12 as part of routine and ongoing testing by the department.

Offenders who tested positive are isolated in their two-man rooms in two of three wings of the camp, while the 16 offenders testing negative are being housed in cells in the remaining wing. All offenders who tested negative Nov. 12 were retested Thursday, and results are pending.

Of the offenders who tested positive, nine are reporting symptoms, including light chills, cough and loss of taste and smell. The entire population of the camp will be retested Nov. 25.

Of the 11 staff assigned to the camp, six are out with COVID-19 or have had close contact with someone who tested positive for the virus and are in quarantine to monitor symptoms and avoid further spread. Five staff are working in the facility and relief staff are being temporarily reassigned from LCC.

Carlin Conservation Camp near Elko currently has one positive offender. The offender is isolated from the population. The camp is in modified movement status while awaiting results from Nov. 16 tests of the entire population.

Offenders at Warm Springs Correctional Center in Carson City remain on quarantine lockdown, and the majority of cases report feeling no symptoms.

Some offenders report mild symptoms and three individuals were transported to the hospital, and all three have been discharged. One remains on oxygen, with numbers in the high 80s.

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