Are we doing enough COVID-19 testing in the state?

Reasons to get tested for COVID-19

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - Doctors say there are two main reasons why people should get tested for COVID-19. First, you want to get tested to know if you picked up the virus from someone else, and second, if your test is positive, that changes your personal behaviors to prevent others from contracting the virus.

But who should get tested, and are we doing enough?

To answer that first question, Jefferson County’s Deputy Health Officer, Dr. David Hicks, said everyone should get tested for COVID-19. And to answer the second question, Dr. Hicks said, “No,” we have not done enough testing in the state, so far.

“Right now, what we’re seeing is higher rates of people testing positive, and so when you see that, that demands that we do more testing,” said Dr. Hicks.

He said we want to get the number of new positive COVID-19 cases to come down.

But, in order to do that, he said we need to double the amount of people getting tested to find more disease.

“When we have limited testing available, and we had that maybe three months ago, we had to really pick and choose who were the highest people, [at] risk people, that need to get tested: the health care workers and first responders. Now, that we have more testing availability, we’re casting the net wider,” Dr. Hicks explained.

Dr. Hicks said at the beginning of the pandemic, more emphasis was being placed on the 65 and older population being tested.

But now many more people are walking around with the virus, but don’t know they have it.

“So, when you see those exponential increases in numbers now in our county and across the state, it’s because it’s shifting down to the younger population that’s getting it, spreading it, and then giving it to the higher risk and vulnerable crowd,” Dr. Hicks explained.

But before you head out to your local testing site, Dr. Hicks recommends consulting your primary care physician, to find out the limitations of the test you’re planning to get.

“I think it’s good to ask the question, ‘How good is the test at picking up COVID-19?’ And so, that PCR test, that’s that nasal swab that’s been out for a while, is still currently kind of the most accurate test out there. So, you may get a rapid test, but it may be 80% good at picking up COVID-19, versus the other test may be 95%,” Dr. Hicks said.

Dr. Hicks also pointed out that the COVID-19 test is only a snapshot of what it picked up at the time you tested, so symptoms could surface days later.

Dr. Hicks is also cautioning against going into emergency rooms to get tested.

If you’re looking for a site to get your test, head to jchd.org, click the “COVID-19 Info” tab, then click “COVID-19 Response.”

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