Testing for the novel coronavirus COVID-19 has been a point of major contention in recent weeks as states grapple to keep pace with demand and though testing supplies are being stretched thin, Serenity Health, through its lab, has managed to secure enough kits to partner with Nye County to conduct drive-up testing in three local communities.
“Honestly, it was kind of a fluke how it started,” Gaby Cruz, owner of Serenity Health and Serenity Mental Health, told the Pahrump Valley Times in an interview on Monday, March 30. She said she had been talking with Daniel Kamau, of Chemisys Laboratory, who told her that testing in and of itself was proving dangerous, and not because of the risk of exposure to those conducting the testing.
“They were doing testing for people and they didn’t have support, to make a long story short,” Cruz said. “He was really putting his life at risk. I asked him what he meant and he said people were driving over barriers in Las Vegas and people were stealing things out of his car, he had 400 tests stolen from him. It just wasn’t good.”
When Cruz broached the idea of holding a testing event in Nye County, Kamau’s question was, will it be safe? Cruz was able to reassure him that with her strong relationship with the Nye County Sheriff’s Office, with whom Serenity Health has a service contract, she felt confident that drive-up testing could be accomplished in a safe and organized manner.
“And of course, Captain Boruchowitz was immediately supportive,” Cruz said of Nye County Sheriff’s Capt. David Boruchowitz. “So I’ve really had their support and that is what has made this happen. We tested 17 people on Saturday, we should have the results of that tomorrow or Wednesday and we’re going to go again. We’re going to do two days in Pahrump, then we’re going to do Beatty and hopefully the people in Amargosa will come and we’re going to do Tonopah, so hopefully the people from Esmeralda County and Round Mountain and all the surrounding communities will come too.”
Anyone who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 can head out today and tomorrow for an opportunity to have themselves tested. Residents are reminded that testing supplies are limited and residents will be tested on a first-come-first-served basis. Serenity Health representatives said the company has enough tests to conduct approximately 250 per day.
The first reported COVID-19 case in Nye County was in Beatty. That patient has recovered, according to Nye County.
A second positive case was reported on March 31 in Amargosa Valley, a man in his 40s who is self-quarantining in his residence, according to a Nye County spokesman. In Pahrump, two more positive cases were also reported by Nye County on March 31—a woman in her 60s and a woman in her 70s, with both of them in quarantine, according to the county.
Two more cases in Pahrump were reported by the county on Wednesday, bringing the total to six overall, though only four are still active.
“Two of these cases are listed as ‘Recovered’ by the state,” a spokesman for Nye County said in an email.
Nye County Sheriff’s Captain David Boruchowitz added that this testing is not government subsidized, it is an example of one company stepping up to do what they can during this time of need. “This is a private entity absorbing all but lab costs,” Boruchowitz explained.
The first of the three days of testing was conducted yesterday in Pahrump from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Pahrump area testing continues today from 8 a.m. to noon at the Nye County Administration Offices, 2100 E. Walt Williams Drive. “Look for the white EZ up,” the flyer directed.
Testing in the Beatty and Tonopah areas will take place tomorrow, Thursday, April 2.
For Beatty, testing will be conducted at the Beatty Justice Court, 426 C Avenue, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
In Tonopah, testing will be performed at the Tonopah Justice Court, 101 Radar Road, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
“This will be the first time COVID-19 testing will be available in Nye outside of Pahrump,” Nye County Commission Chairman John Koenig stated when reached for comment. “It is important to note that this testing is for serious inquiries only. If you do not have symptoms of COVID-19, a test cannot be administered.”
Symptoms of COVID-19, as detailed by the CDC, include fever, cough and shortness of breath.
“It’s going to go off the CDC guidelines,” Cruz detailed. “So if you show up and you just have a cough, you might get tested for coronavirus. You’ll get tested for something but it might not be for the coronavirus.
“People will meet with a doctor and they are going to evaluate your level of risk, low, moderate or high. They will have other upper respiratory tests, so the doctor might say, you don’t have the symptoms of the coronavirus but you have all the symptoms of the flu, I’m going to test you for the flu,” Cruz informed. “And instead of waiting for the test to come back, the doctors will write a prescription for whatever treats the flu. Or they will prescribe albuterol if you’re having trouble breathing or help treat you for anxiety or refer you to a therapist, whatever the doctors believe you need. They will do physician orders and prescribing on site.”
All those who plan to head out for testing must stay in their vehicles. To help expedite the process, residents are asked to bring a copy of their identification and insurance card on the same page, along with a contact phone number. There are no co-pays for testing. Those without medical insurance will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by Serenity Health.
“I have made the commitment that if people are uninsured and they cannot afford the test, Serenity will pay for the test for anybody who is high risk, for those people who the doctors say they think that person is at high risk and needs to be tested,” Cruz stated.
Testing is conducted by a swab in the nasal cavity. Tests take about five to seven minutes each, the flyer reported.
“Everybody is freaking out right now so we just want to help put people at ease,” Cruz said. “And we wanted to go into the rural communities to do this because they are the ones that feel like they are often left behind. We need to help them.”
“Please remember to continue to use social distancing, stay home for Nye and stay home for Nevada,” Koenig concluded.
According to Nye County officials, there was a case of COVID-19 in Nye County, a Beatty resident. That man has recovered and is cleared of quarantine.
A second positive case was reported on Tuesday, March 30. The patient is a male in his 40s who lives in Amargosa. He is self-quarantined in his home.
Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at firstname.lastname@example.org
Commission to host call-in meeting this Friday
Nye County Commission Chairman John Koenig has reported that the commission will be holding a meeting on Friday, April 3.
The meeting will be call-in only for members of the public.
Anyone can participate in the public comment portion of the meeting by calling 602-610-2062 and entering access code 187965. When prompted, callers should provide their first and last names and press 5 * in their phones to notify administration that they would like to speak. If a busy signal or error message regarding call capacity is received when calling in, county officials ask that residents hang up, wait a few moments and try again.
This meeting will be something of a test run as the county figures out how to manage the call-in system. Koenig asked residents to exercise patience as the county navigates these uncharted waters.
Those interested in watching the meeting without making any public comment can do so through the county’s online granicus video system at https://nyecounty.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=4
The agenda can be accessed at www.nyecounty.net