COVID-19 Outbreak Update #13

On April 29, 2020, NH DHHS issued health alert COVID-19 update #13 regarding updated new specimen collection stations for COVID-19 testing and new information on serology testing.

NH DPHS Health AlertsKey Points and Recommendations:

  • To increase access to COVID-19 testing, the NH Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has established five new drive-through locations where patients can have nasopharyngeal swabs collected for COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing. 
  • These new specimen collection stations are open 7-days per week from 11am – 7pm and are located in: 
    • Lancaster: 350 Meadow St., Lancaster, NH 03743
    • Plymouth: 7 Armory Rd., Plymouth, NH 03264
    • Tamworth (DMV): 1864 White Mountain Highway, Tamworth, NH 03886
    • Claremont (middle school): 107 South St., Claremont, NH 03743
    • Rochester: 106 Brock St., Rochester, NH 03867
  • You can order testing for any patient with COVID-19 symptoms (see below) at one of these stations by sending in a completed test requisition form to the NH DHHS COVID-19 Coordinating Office via fax (603-271-3001) or email (covidtesting@dhhs.nh.gov).
    • The NH DHHS COVID-19 Coordinating Office will then call the patient directly to schedule an appointment at one of these stations.
    • If a patient is unable to drive to one of the stations due to a disability or physical barrier, NH DHHS will schedule a visiting nurses association (VNA) to go to the patient’s home to collect the specimen. 
  • Patients without a primary care provider can call 2-1-1 to be assessed for COVID-19 testing at these new stations under a standing order. 
  • Facilities (e.g., long term care facilities, assisted-living facilities, residential homes, etc.) with concern about active COVID-19 transmission can request testing for staff and residents by calling the NH DHHS COVID-19 Coordinating Office at 603-271-5980. 
  • Antibody-based tests are now available through commercial laboratories for the detection of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. Providers should review the COVID-19 Antibody Testing Primer from the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA), and information released by Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security about serology-based tests for COVID-19. 
    • Do not use antibody-based tests to diagnose acute infection. It can take ~2 weeks after infection for antibodies to be detectable. If a patient is symptomatic, collect an upper  respiratory tract specimen for testing by PCR. Become acquainted with the test characteristics of the various antibody tests, noting the possibility of false-negative results (especially from use too early following symptoms) and false-positive results (especially from cross-reactivity to commonly circulating coronaviruses). 
    • A positive antibody test should not be used to make decisions about a person’s potential to infect others or their immune status. For example, healthcare workers with positive serology should still use personal protective equipment in the care of suspect or confirmed COVID-19 patients and everybody, including those with a positive antibody test result, need to continue to practice social distancing. We do not know how a positive test, or specific antibody levels, correlate with a person’s immunity, and we don’t know how long protection may last. 
  • In partnership with the New Hampshire Health Care Association, we continue weekly calls every Wednesday from 12:00 – 1:00 pm for LTCFs, ALFs, and other congregate settings with vulnerable patients (next call Wednesday, April 29th): 
  • We continue to host weekly calls every Thursday from 12:00 – 1:00 pm for healthcare providers and local partners (next call Thursday, April 30th): 

Full DHHS Alert