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Easy To Say ‘Get Tested.’ Harder To Do. Here’s How.

Will Bondurant determined to get examined for COVID-19 after attending three racial justice demonstrations over a five-day interval in San Francisco, the place he lives.

The first, on June 3, “was the scariest and most risky from the point of view of COVID infection,” mentioned Bondurant, 31. Although most wore masks, individuals had been jammed in, unable at instances to keep up the really helpful 6-foot distance, he mentioned.

Bondurant didn’t have any COVID signs however went for the take a look at as a result of he had a gathering scheduled the next weekend with a good friend in his late 70s.

As protests proceed to ripple throughout the nation almost a month after Minneapolis resident George Floyd died below a policeman’s knee, political leaders and public well being specialists warn that mass gatherings — together with the indoor Tulsa, Oklahoma, marketing campaign rally President Donald Trump held Saturday — will additional gasoline new coronavirus cases.

Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, instructed members of Congress earlier this month that those that have participated within the protests ought to “highly consider” getting a diagnostic take a look at for COVID-19. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo mentioned it was their “civic duty” to take action.

The problem is to get examined in a means that may yield helpful info.

If you’ve gotten symptoms of COVID-19, corresponding to a fever, cough, sore throat or issue respiration, it’s best to search testing instantly, well being care professionals say. If you don’t have any signs, listed here are guideposts for testing:

Timing

Experts disagree on how lengthy to attend post-exposure earlier than being examined: Some say no less than three or 4 days, others say no less than seven. The longer you wait, the larger the prospect a take a look at will detect any virus. But it’s worthwhile to weigh that towards the danger of exposing others in case you are contaminated.

Keep in thoughts take a look at is related just for the day you’re taking it. If you intend to attend extra protests, you might have to be examined once more — and once more. And if you happen to’re examined too early in the middle of an infection, the take a look at may not detect it.

That might give false reassurance because the virus can take as much as 14 days to incubate, mentioned Dr. Ravi Kavasery, a medical director at AltaMed Health Services, a big chain of neighborhood clinics in California.

Bradley Pollock, affiliate dean for public well being sciences on the UC Davis School of Medicine, belongs to a gaggle of University of California well being specialists that had initially really helpful protesters get a take a look at three to seven days after a protest, however he now suggests ready no less than seven days.

It can take as much as three days to obtain take a look at outcomes.

How Great Was Your Risk?

“Any large gathering creates risk for transmission,” mentioned Anne Rimoin, a professor of epidemiology at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health. “It’s just common sense that when you have events where people are shouting or singing or chanting and in close proximity to each other, that is the perfect storm.”

Indoor gatherings are typically thought of far riskier than out of doors ones. To assess the seriousness of your publicity threat, Dr. William Miller, a professor of epidemiology at Ohio State University, suggests you think about:

Was it troublesome to keep up social distancing? Were individuals close to you not carrying a masks, or coughing, shouting, or singing? Many individuals, or only one? Do you reside in an space with a lot of new COVID-19 circumstances each day, or the place the day by day quantity is rising?

“If your answers to those questions are yes, the risk is greater — and so is the benefit of being tested,” Miller mentioned.

Public well being specialists say the risk is even higher if you happen to had been in a crowd the place police sprayed tear fuel, which makes individuals cough and rub their eyes — each doubtlessly perilous within the period of COVID-19.

Greater Test Availability

If you resolve to get examined, the supply of take a look at websites varies extensively by area. Most neighborhood well being facilities now provide testing, as do massive pressing care facilities and a rising variety of CVS and Walgreens pharmacies. Google will present a listing of testing websites in your space if you happen to kind in “COVID tests near me.” Remember that you really want a COVID virus take a look at — not an antibody take a look at, which is designed to detect previous an infection.

Some websites could require a prescription for the take a look at, or prohibit testing to individuals with signs and employees deemed important. In some jurisdictions, together with California’s Los Angeles, Riverside and Santa Clara counties, testing is offered free to all residents, symptomatic or not.

Several U.S. cities, together with Boston, San Francisco, Atlanta, Seattle and Louisville, Kentucky, have supplied free COVID-19 assessments to individuals who say they participated within the protests.

Federal legislation requires all insurers to cowl all the price of testing for the virus, no matter signs and when or the place a doable an infection could have been acquired. However, some well being plans require that the take a look at be ordered by a physician.

There can also be the choice of utilizing one among a number of FDA-authorized home tests, together with ones from LabCorp, EverlyWell Inc. and Phosphorus Diagnostics. They price from $75 to $150, and outcomes are usually posted on-line inside three days.

Medicare covers their price, as do personal insurers, though, once more, the personal well being plans could require a referral from a well being supplier.

People who’re uninsured can get cost-free COVID testing by way of Medicaid in 21 states, and a separate federal program reimburses medical suppliers for the price of testing the uninsured.

Accuracy Has Improved

FDA-validated residence assessments have accuracy share charges “in the high 90s,” mentioned Mark Cameron, an immunologist and an affiliate professor on the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland. But because the assessments are new and had been authorized on an emergency foundation, take any end result with a grain of salt, he urged.

The “nasopharyngeal” take a look at, during which a medical skilled slides an extended swab to the again of your nasal cavity, is taken into account by many public well being specialists to be the gold customary. Less invasive choices embrace oral swabs, shallower nasal swabs and, extra not too long ago, a saliva take a look at.

“Oral swabs are probably not as good as nasopharyngeal swabs, but they may be good enough,” mentioned Pollock.

Several elements may cause a take a look at to inaccurately miss an an infection, together with human error in gathering the pattern and a low viral load within the swabbed space.

The most necessary issue may be the timing of the take a look at.

Bondurant, the San Francisco resident, struggled with that calculation, as a result of he wanted the end result earlier than he visited his elder good friend.

He determined to take the take a look at on June 9, six days after the primary protest he attended. The end result got here again the very subsequent day — unfavorable, he mentioned.

But UCLA’s Rimoin counsels warning on decoding a take a look at that exhibits no an infection. “A negative test a week after being exposed certainly reduces the likelihood that somebody is infected, but it certainly does not eliminate that possibility completely,” she mentioned.

That’s why many public well being specialists advocate that, no matter testing, you restrict interactions with others for 14 days after potential publicity to the virus.

“Any opportunity for spread in uninfected populations, this virus will take it,” Rimoin mentioned. “The thing people need to remember is that we may be really tired of this virus, but this virus is nowhere near tired of us.”

This KHN story first printed on California Healthline, a service of the California Health Care Foundation.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a nationwide well being coverage information service. It is an editorially impartial program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which isn’t affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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