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Let's talk: When to test for COVID-19

In the ongoing battle against COVID-19, timing is everything. We've all become familiar with the sight of testing centers popping up like mushrooms after the rain, but when exactly is the best time to roll up your sleeve and get swabbed?


Let's cut to the chase: the optimal time to get tested for COVID-19 depends on various factors, including exposure, symptoms, and the type of test you’re opting for. If you've been in close contact with someone who tested positive or you're experiencing symptoms, don't wait around like a procrastinating student with a term paper due. Get tested pronto. Rapid antigen tests can often detect the virus quickly, providing results in as little as 15 minutes, but remember, these tests may not be as accurate as PCR tests.





Speaking of PCR tests, if you're aiming for the gold standard of accuracy, these are your go-to. However, they can take longer to process, typically a day or two, so factor in the waiting time when scheduling your test. While waiting might feel like an eternity, it's crucial for preventing further spread if you do turn out to be positive.


Now, what if you're feeling perfectly fine and dandy? Should you still get tested? Absolutely. Asymptomatic carriers are like sneaky ninjas, spreading the virus without even realizing it. Many experts recommend regular testing, especially if you're in a high-risk environment like a crowded workplace or you frequently interact with vulnerable individuals.


But hold your horses before you rush to the nearest testing site every day. Testing too frequently might not only be unnecessary but could also strain testing resources needed for those who truly need it. Aim for a balance, perhaps once a week or biweekly, depending on your risk level and exposure.


In conclusion, there's no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of when to get tested for COVID-19. Whether you're coughing up a storm or feeling peachy keen, staying informed about your risk factors and the available testing options is key. So, keep calm, stay vigilant, and remember, timing is everything in this pandemic tango.


Article Made in Partnership with the Washington State Department of Health

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