Why COVID-19 Testing is the Key to Getting Back to Normal

Every single person can help our country control the COVID-19 pandemic by reducing their own chance of getting infected by SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes coronavirus disease, or COVID-19), and preventing the spread of COVID-19 to coworkers, friends, and loved ones.

Widespread testing is one of the most effective strategies to help prevent the spread of infection and get our country safely back to work and school.

Testing saves lives
A positive test early in the course of the illness enables individuals to isolate themselves — reducing the chances that they will infect others and allowing them to seek treatment earlier, likely reducing disease severity and the risk of long-term disability, or death. Others with whom the infected individual has recently been in contact should also get tested. A negative test result doesn’t necessarily mean the individual doesn’t have COVID-19; they could become infectious later. Therefore, even if the individuals tests negative, they should still protect themself and others by physically distancing, wearing a face mask, and frequently washing their hands.

Testing of people who are not showing symptoms but have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 is also important. Nearly half of all infections are transmitted by people who are not showing symptoms. Identifying people who are asymptomatic (not showing any symptoms) and presymptomatic (not yet showing symptoms) will play a major role in stopping the pandemic.

Testing can be easy and quick
Quick test results allow an individual with COVID-19 to not only get treated faster, but also take steps to minimize the spread of the virus. Early in the pandemic, there was limited capacity and supplies for testing, which resulted in delays. However, lab equipment has since improved, capacity and supply have expanded, and results are now being returned, on average, within three to four days. In fact, point-of-care tests will be available that provide a result in less than 15 minutes!

Testing matters more in the communities affected the most
Communities of color are disproportionately burdened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some individuals in these communities are essential workers, who cannot work from home, increasing their risk of being exposed to the virus. In addition, multi-generational living situations or multi-family housing arrangements can allow the virus to spread more quickly if one household member gets infected. Comorbid conditions that worsen the health risks of COVID-19, such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes, are also more common in minority communities because of long-standing societal and environmental factors and impediments to health care access.

Unfortunately, there still is a lot of confusion about where to get a test and who should get tested. Read more about testing and how every single person can help our country control the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Getting tested for #COVID19 can save lives and help get our country safely back to work and school. Read this blog post from NIH leaders about the importance of #testing: https://bit.ly/32cRsNM

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