Swabs for COVID-19 tests diverted

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - On Monday, we reported that Creekside Medical Clinic has COVID-19 tests. However, since then, doctors say they were told they no longer have unlimited access, as parts of the physical tests were diverted.

COVID-19 tests.

Doctors say this would have made a big difference in how patients are managed.

However, Dr. Nancy Babbitt, a physician at Creekside Medical Center, said she found out Wednesday that those tests have been diverted from Rapid City and to other areas.

"I had publicly told people that we had thousands of tests and we could start testing," said Babbitt. "So, I feel terrible that I had to then follow up and tell people we don't and I didn't have any control over that. I am very sorry that we're facing this."

In a statement from an executive from Sandford Laboratory, Babbitt was told the distributor of the swabs used in the tests have re-allocated those swabs away from South Dakota, to areas of higher need.

"I think right now, we are trying to prioritize the people that can put others at risk in a dangerous way, like health care workers," said Babbitt. We're trying to test people that had direct exposure to someone that's known to have COVID."

Treating Coronavirus is not based just on a test result. Babbitt says having a result does not change treatment for patients who are stable and able to remain home-- positive cases would require 2 weeks isolation.

"So, testing is really important for epidemiologic reasons and for decision making," said Babbitt.

Babbitt said her clinic only has 10 COVID-19 tests. Ideally, she would want more than 100 restocked each week.

"I just don't think that they're grasping, still the needs that we have in the day-to-day care that I give to patients," said Babbitt. "We hope that we will catch up eventually, but we're behind."

Babbitt says the federal government is two months behind and many things could have been done to react to what was happening in other countries.

According to Governor Kristi Noem, if both state labs and the private lab are working at full capacity, she says the three labs can test almost 800 tests per day.