The Southern Nevada Health District has notified local medical providers that it has stopped testing for the new coronavirus because it has run out of the chemicals needed for the tests.
“Due to nationwide shortages of reagents for testing SARS-CoV-2 virus, the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) has exhausted our current supply of reagents and must cease testing immediately,” said the alert sent Tuesday afternoon.
The alert recommended that providers send samples to private labs Quest Diagnostis and LabCorp, which have recently begun testing for the virus in the region.
On Wednesday, the district clarified that its lab is “testing specimens related to contact investigations and for health care providers to assist with patient discharge” but that it is “asking health care providers to send their specimens to private laboratories for testing.”
“It’s very concerning,” Brian Labus, a member of the medical team advising the governor on COVID-19, said of the limited testing capacity at the district’s lab, one of two public labs in Nevada handling the coronavirus tests.
“It’s a huge challenge to an epidemiologic investigation when you can’t determine who has this disease and who doesn’t,” said Labus, an assistant professor in epidemiology and biostatistics at UNLV.
Public complaints about a lack of access to coronavirus testing have been growing in recent weeks as the outbreak in Nevada has increased.
A drive-up testing service that opened recently at Sahara Urgent Care that forwards tests to Quest Diagnostics also has had issues in its early days of operation, with patients complaining the tests weren’t conducted properly and confusion over the procedures.