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Testing for Coronavirus

Dear friends and families,

As the pandemic drags on, we wanted to remind everyone that we do collect samples for coronavirus testing on our patients at our downtown office by appointment only.  Results come back to us in as quick as 1 day, though sometimes it takes 3 to 4 days.  Should you get tested?  Good question.

We recommend PCR testing from a nasal swab if you have symptoms consistent with coronavirus.  Symptoms commonly include cough, runny nose, congestion, sneezing, sore throat, headache, body aches, and fever.  Often times there is a history of a contact with someone who has coronavirus.  Though there is nothing we can offer to cure coronavirus, the testing helps us determine how long each patient and the family should quarantine.

Should you get PCR tested if you do not have symptoms?  Generally, the answer is no, even if you have had contact with another person who has tested positive.  Why?  Unfortunately, testing does not help determine how long you should stay isolated if you have come in contact with someone who tested positive.  Regardless of the result of the test, you need to isolate for 14 days.   If you get tested after an exposure, the test is done 5 to 7 days after the exposure.  At that point if you test positive you isolate for at least 10 days from the day of the positive test and longer if you develop symptoms.  But here is the important thing:  even if you have no symptoms and test negative you will still isolate for two weeks from your last exposure to the contact.

What if you have already been sick and want to test for antibodies to prove you have had coronavirus?  Or maybe you have not been sick but want to know if you possibly have been exposed?  Interesting questions.  Again, the answer is no.  Unfortunately, there are two problems with antibody testing.  First, we do not believe this testing is reliable enough to determine if you have had or have not had coronavirus.  Second, even if you have antibodies, we do not know if this protects you against developing this illness if you were to get exposed to coronavirus again.  In other words, you would still have to continue with all the precautions you are taking now, regardless of the results of antibody testing.

What if I have special circumstances?  We know that not every patient’s story is the same.  There are some exceptions to the above guidelines.  If you have more questions, we encourage that you please call the office and arrange a virtual telemedicine visit with your primary doctor to discuss your concerns.  If you think you need testing please call to schedule a visit and one of our nurses will help arrange the appropriate visit.

Sincerely,

PAC

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