COVID-19 Information for Providers & Patients

Coronavirus Copy

Provider FAQs

No. These multi-pathogen molecular assays can detect a number of human respiratory viruses, including other coronaviruses that can cause acute respiratory illness, but they do not detect COVID-19.

No. Currently, laboratories and our staff do not collect respiratory (e.g., nasal pharyngeal swabs, sputum) specimens for COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 testing. Our lab is equipped to perform the laboratory testing only.

No. At this time, PSCs and IOPs are not equipped with adequate isolation rooms (AIIR) and are not set up to receive patients under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19. Blood draw services for PUIs and/or with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 should be deferred to facilities with an AIIR (e.g., hospitals).

The clinical spectrum of COVID-19 ranges from mild disease with non-specific signs and symptoms of acute respiratory illness, to severe pneumonia with respiratory failure and septic shock. There have also been reports of asymptomatic infection with COVID-19.

See also Interim Clinical Guidance for Management of Patients with Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Currently, those at greatest risk of infection are persons who have had prolonged, unprotected close contact with a patient with symptomatic, confirmed COVID-19 and those who live in or have recently been to areas with sustained transmission.

The available data is currently insufficient to identify risk factors for severe clinical outcomes. From the limited data that is available for COVID-19 infected patients, and for data from related coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, it is possible that older adults, and persons who have underlying chronic medical conditions, such as immunocompromising conditions, may be at risk for more severe outcomes. See also

See also Interim Clinical Guidance for Management of Patients with Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The onset and duration of viral shedding and period of infectiousness for COVID-19 are not yet known. It is possible that SARS-CoV-2 RNA may be detectable in the upper or lower respiratory tract for weeks after illness onset, similar to infection with MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. However, detection of viral RNA does not necessarily mean that infectious virus is present. Asymptomatic infection with SARS-CoV-2 has been reported, but it is not yet known what role asymptomatic infection plays in transmission. Similarly, the role of pre-symptomatic transmission (infection detection during the incubation period prior to illness onset) is unknown. Existing literature regarding SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses (e.g. MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV) suggest that the incubation period may range from 2–14 days.

Very limited data is available about the detection of SARS-CoV-2 and infectious virus in clinical specimens. SARS-CoV-2 RNA has been detected from upper and lower respiratory tract specimens, and SARS-CoV-2 has been isolated from upper respiratory tract specimens and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. SARS-CoV-2 RNA has been detected in blood and stool specimens, but whether an infectious virus is present in extrapulmonary specimens is currently unknown. The duration of SARS-CoV-2 RNA detection in upper and lower respiratory tract specimens and in extrapulmonary specimens is not yet known but may be several weeks or longer, which has been observed in cases of MERS-CoV or SARS-CoV infection. While viable, infectious SARS-CoV has been isolated from respiratory, blood, urine, and stool specimens, in contrast – viable, infectious MERS-CoV has only been isolated from respiratory tract specimens. It is not yet known whether other non-respiratory body fluids from an infected person including vomit, urine, breast milk, or semen can contain viable, infectious SARS-CoV-2.

The immune response to COVID-19 is not yet understood. Patients with MERS-CoV infection are unlikely to be re-infected shortly after they recover, but it is not yet known whether similar immune protection will be observed for patients with COVID-19.

Although the transmission dynamics have yet to be determined, CDC currently recommends a cautious approach to persons under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19. Healthcare personnel evaluating PUI or providing care for patients with confirmed COVID-19 should use, Standard Transmission-based Precautions. See the Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Known or Patients Under Investigation for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Healthcare Settings.

Patients should receive any interventions they would normally receive as standard of care. Patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be asked to wear a surgical mask as soon as they are identified and be evaluated in a private room with the door closed. Healthcare personnel entering the room should use Standard and Transmission-based Precautions. 

Healthcare providers should consult with local or state health departments to determine whether patients meet criteria for a Persons Under Investigation (PUI). Providers should immediately notify infection control personnel at their facility if they suspect COVID-19 in a patient. 

Not all patients with COVID-19 require hospital admission. Patients whose clinical presentation warrants in-patient clinical management for supportive medical care should be admitted to the hospital under appropriate isolation precautions. Some patients with an initial mild clinical presentation may worsen in the second week of illness. The decision to monitor these patients in the inpatient or outpatient setting should be made on a case-by-case basis. This decision will depend not only on the clinical presentation, but also on the patient’s ability to engage in monitoring, the ability for safe isolation at home, and the risk of transmission in the patient’s home environment. For more information, see Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Known or Patients Under Investigation for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in a Healthcare Setting and Interim Guidance for Implementing Home Care of People Not Requiring Hospitalization for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

More guidance about environmental infection control is available in section 7 of CDC’s Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Confirmed COVID-19 or Persons Under Investigation for COVID-19 in Healthcare Settings.

Additional Resources:
 

SRL is closely monitoring the situation regarding the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). We are dedicated to promoting a healthy and safe environment for all our patients and employees.  Patient Service Centers and phlebotomy sites cannot collect specimens for this test.  The information below provides answers to frequently asked questions.

Patients, please do not go to a Patient Service Center for COVID-19 testing as these sites do not collect specimens for the COVID-19 test. Contact your healthcare provider for information about collection options.

Providers should not refer any patients suspected (persons under investigation) or confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 to a Path Patient Service Center or other phlebotomy sites. SRL will continue to provide test services for patients suspected (persons of interest) specimens collected in appropriate healthcare settings, such as physician offices and hospitals.

Patient FAQs

Call your doctor:  If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice.

Steps If You're Sick

  • Clean hands often
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow

•       The CDC defines “close contact” as (a) being within approximately 6 feet of a COVID-19 case for more than a few minutes; close contact can occur while caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a health care waiting area or room with a COVID-19 case; OR (b) having direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (e.g., being coughed on).

•       Any patient who has had “close contact” with a person confirmed to have, or being evaluated for, COVID-19 infection, should immediately seek care from a healthcare professional and/or notify their local health department.

No. Currently, laboratories and our staff do not collect respiratory (e.g., nasal pharyngeal swabs, sputum) specimens for COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 testing. Our lab is equipped to perform the laboratory testing only.

No. At this time, PSCs and IOPs are not equipped with adequate isolation rooms (AIIR) and are not set up to receive patients under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19. Blood draw services for PUIs and/or with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 should be deferred to facilities with an AIIR (e.g., hospitals).

Check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations on travel.

At this time there is no vaccine to prevent Coronavirus disease. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

Additional Resources:
 

As part of our commitment to provide high quality services and optimal access to your members, Sonic Healthcare USA and its affiliated laboratories will continue to provide updates regarding testing for SARS-Cov-2/COVID-19.
 

Testing Access and Test Performing Locations:

  • Patients from all service areas can access the test through their local healthcare providers currently serviced by Sonic’s Clinical Laboratories, as well as Anatomic Pathology Practices in 34 states.
  • Six Sonic Healthcare USA laboratories currently perform SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 testing: Sonic Reference Laboratory (Austin, TX), American Esoteric Laboratories (Memphis, TN), Clinical Pathology Laboratories (Austin, TX), Sunrise Medical Laboratories (Hicksville, NY), WestPac Labs (Los Angeles, CA) and Clinical Labs of Hawaii (Honolulu, HI, March 23).
  • We are coordinating among our affiliated laboratories to distribute testing capacity in real time to mitigate high demands from endemic regions and hot spots.
  • Testing is performed seven days a week, 24 hours per day.


Turnaround Time (TAT):

  • Expected TAT is published at 1-3 days. In markets local to our testing sites, TAT may be shorter. TAT may vary with changes in capacity and clinical demands.
  • As of today, Our TAT have been under 48 hours at 100%. This unmatched performance is critical to care delivery for the most vulnerable populations in distress.

 

Testing Capacity:

  • Sonic uses four different platforms and methodologies for SARS-Cov-2/COVID-19 testing, including the current gold standard CDC/IDT assay, as well as the leading high throughput Roche COBAS 8600/8800 assay (FDA EUA approval on March 13). The purposes for our multi-platform strategy are:
    • To maintain critical turnaround time commitment.
    • To resolve indeterminate results or inconsistencies between test results and clinical presentation
    • To prevent service interruptions due to platform-specific supply chain issues.
       

Pricing and CPT Code Information:

  • Pricing: $70 per test, same for all CPT codes
  • CPT Codes: 87635, U0001, U0002

In response to this national health crisis and to ensure optimal access for patients, we are offering a single price for all payors, clients and patients. Any future adjustment due to changes in supply chain commitment and availability will apply to all payor agreements.

The goal of our pricing approach is to ensure affordable patient access and protect our testing capacity to avoid service interruptions. Our price is established to support the turnaround time, indeterminate result resolution and the four different platforms and methodologies, including the current gold standard CDC/IDT assay.

 

We are working diligently with all the suppliers and our clinical laboratory colleagues to optimize support for our communities. Dr. Hussong, CEO of Sonic Healthcare USA, was one of the elite physician laboratory executives who attended the emergency meeting at the White House on March 4 with Vice President Pence, HHS Secretary Azar, FDA Commissioner Hahn and other officials to address the national laboratory testing response. We, along with our industry colleagues, pledged to work closely with the government and our suppliers to ensure optimal and sustainable access to our patients. We understand price is an important component of ensuring affordable patient access.

 

We believe we share the same goals of patient access and affordability with you, our Health Plan partners, and look forward to working with you closely on patient access, case management and reporting, and appropriate pricing support.

 

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or Maggie.

 

Thank you.

 

Maggie Sadler
Senior Vice President, Managed Care, Sonic Healthcare USA
512-531-2152, msadler@sonichealthcareusa.com

 

Philip Chen, MD, PhD
Chief Strategy Officer and Head of COVID-19 Task Force, Sonic Healthcare USA
512-439-1653, pchen@sonichealthcareusa.com