By Kaitlin Dunn
Elm Staff Writer
This past March, many states made the decision to shut down in order to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Most of the nation has lifted lockdowns and many places are trying to return or have already returned to normalcy, but COVID-19 cases continue to go up. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the official number of positive COVID-19 cases, as of Oct. 12, is 7.74 million with over 214,000 deaths.
As cases in the United States continue to rise, it is more pertinent than ever to get tested — and tested continuously if you are frequently in an environment where you are likely to get COVID-19.
The CDC said to get tested if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, such as a fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing, among others.
They also recommend getting tested if you have had close contact — defined as being within six feet for more than 15 minutes — with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, or if you have been asked or referred to get tested by your healthcare provider or local or state health department.
If you suspect that you may have contracted COVID-19, or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive, the CDC recommends calling your health-care provider in order to get connected with local testing areas.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services has a tool on their website where one can find locations to get tested in their specific state.
The HHS also offers links with information about each state and territory’s plans for testing.
Regarding which test options are available, AP News Health Reporter Matthew Perrone said that there are currently two methods within the United States, which include genetic and antibody testing, both of which are currently available at selected clinics, drive-thru sites, and hospitals.
“[Genetic testing] tells you if you have an active infection with the coronavirus, whether you have symptoms or not [while antibody testing] checks to see if you were previously infected at some point and fought it off,” Perrone said on Apr. 21.
“But eventually experts predict the blood test will play a key role in allowing many Americans to safely return to work and school by identifying those who are likely immune from the virus,” he said.
The effectiveness of these tests can also depend on things such as how good of a sample was taken during the test, and how far the virus has progressed within an individual.
With COVID-19 testing, the time in which you take your test and receive the results also plays a key role in ensuring the health of yourself and others.
The CDC recommends that even after a negative test, that those who feel they have symptoms of COVID-19 should continue to isolate after their negative results and test again at a later date.
“Scientists don’t yet understand exactly when a person who is infected with the coronavirus will start testing positive for the virus,” Vox reporter Brian Resnick said on Oct. 8. “There are situations when a person could test negative, actually be infected, and also be contagious.”
While waiting for results, the CDC suggests staying isolated and keeping track of your health to see if any symptoms progress, informing those who you have recently contacted, and keeping an eye out for the results of each test you are able to take.
After you have received your results, there are several options depending on what they are.
If you tested positive, continue to rest while you recover, and take precautionary measures such as isolating yourself from family or housemates to quell the further spread of the disease.
“As much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from other people and pets in your home [and] if possible, you should use a separate bathroom,” the CDC said on their ‘Guidelines’ page. “If you need to be around other people or animals in or outside of the home, wear a mask.”
If you receive a negative result, this means the virus was not present at the time of the test, however, you should continue to take precautions. If you tested negative but begin or continue to show symptoms of COVID-19, take another test in a few days, making sure to take precautions such as limiting travel and self-isolating in between.
With COVID-19, the best thing one can do to keep themselves and others healthy is to practice CDC social distancing and get tested frequently to ensure they continuously test negative.
Featured Photo caption: As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to linger on many people’s minds; so does which test(s) to take — here’s what you can do if you choose to get tested. Photo Courtesy of Volodymyr Hryshchenko.