A Covid test is a tool to determine if an individual is infected with the virus or has been before. Some confusion remains around coronavirus testing, when it is necessary, and how often people need to test. There are no mandatory requirements and timeframes stipulated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Here are some guidelines about get tested for Covid-19 might find helpful.
What are the testing options available?
Different testing options are available to people.
- The first is a PCR test (polymerase chain reaction), which detects genetic material unique to the coronavirus to determine if a person is currently infected. Standard PCR tests must be sent to a lab and take 3 – 5 business days to process. The newer rapid PCR test can be processed onsite and provide results within hours of the appointment.
- The second is an antigen test, which also detects a current infection. Instead of screening for genetic material, however, this test identifies specific proteins coating the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
- The third is an antibody test. Antibodies form during infection, so a positive test indicates that a person previously had Covid-19.
People who travel to international destinations must supply airlines with a negative Covid test before boarding their flight. Many travelers turn to rapid PCR testing in Atlanta from Event Scan, Color, Global 7 Diagnostics, and Drip Hydration. These at-home testing services mean no waiting in queues to get tested, risking exposure to Covid. Professional, qualified staff come to your home and collect a sample for a PCR or antigen test. The PCR test is more accurate and having a rapid test means you get results within hours, not days.
New guidelines stipulate that travelers may cross into the United States via a land border without producing a negative Covid test. However, the same might not apply when entering one of their neighboring countries. Travelers should keep up to date with any new developments in their points of departure and arrival to ensure they remain compliant with current regulations.
Some employers are taking no chances when it comes to reopening their businesses and preventing a Covid outbreak. To that end, they insist on regular Covid testing, hiring large companies to facilitate it on-site. Company policies vary, with some using a blanket mandatory testing program weekly or monthly. Others only insist on a test if an employee fails a screening process, such as having a fever or experiencing Covid symptoms.
Employees must consent to Covid testing, and their employers cannot force them to have one. However, the company might insist that these employees work from home or be assigned to areas where they have no contact with others. Several school boards have taken a similar approach, requiring students to present a negative test to access educational institutions. Students wishing to receive in-person tuition must comply with these requirements.
Anyone presenting symptoms of Covid should undergo testing. In the case of mild symptoms, some healthcare professionals advise self-isolating for a day or two to see if they worsen before having a test.
Common Covid symptoms are fever, coughing, lethargy, and a loss of taste or smell. Lesser-known signs of Covid include a sore throat, headache, diarrhea, skin rashes, irritated eyes, and aches and pains, especially in the joints. Anyone presenting with Covid symptoms should self-isolate until they can get a test and while they wait for the results. Many favor the rapid PCR test as it takes far less time to render a result.
Anyone who came into contact with someone who has subsequently tested positive for Covid should undergo testing. The period to work with as a benchmark is two weeks. Therefore, if you were near anyone in the two weeks before they tested positive, testing will be necessary.
You have the option of self-isolating for several days after contact with an infected person. If you do not develop any symptoms, testing might be superfluous. Waiting until you are symptomatic relieves unnecessary strain on stretched testing resources.
Testing and Vaccination
Many fully vaccinated individuals assume that they no longer need to worry about Covid testing. However, this is incorrect. Current Covid vaccines do not eliminate your chances of getting Covid. They significantly reduce the odds of this happening and developing into a life-threatening scenario if you do get it. What vaccines cannot do as things stand is guarantee that recipients cannot get tested for Covid-19.
Therefore, vaccinated people still need to undergo testing when they travel, develop symptoms, or are in proximity with an infected person. This necessity will remain until enough members of the population are vaccinated and the threat of transmission decreases dramatically. Scientists believe that the world is not near this goal yet, although significant progress has been made.