These are unprecedented times. Many of us have more questions than doctors can answer. COVID-19 is unlike any contagious disease since the Spanish flu of 1918 which killed over 50,000,000 people worldwide. The fact that coronavirus has been deemed a “pandemic” means that the disease has infected people all over the world.
What do we know about COVID today?
Most people, up to 80%, have the virus but have few if any symptoms. These 80% are very contagious but may not have fever or cough that we expect from someone who has a viral illness. These 80% will test positive if they get a nasal or oral swab that tests for the virus. These same people will not test positive if the blood/antibody test is run. The fact that such a large percentage of people with the disease exhibit no signs is one reason we must continue to practice shelter at home and social distancing.
The data we have currently suggests that another 15% of people with the active virus do have symptoms. These are typically fever (over 100.4), dry cough and shortness of breath. It is now understood that younger people with the coronavirus may have diarrhea as well. These people will also test positive using the nasal/oral swab. Many in this group of symptomatic virus patients will have flu-like symptoms for 3-5 days and should stay quarantined from family and friends. Increasing fluid intake, acetaminophen for fever and rest are the mainstay of treatment. There is no specific medication for the COVID-19 virus.
Lastly, about 5% of people with the active infection will require hospitalization for shortness of breath and lung problems. People over 65 or those who have high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer or pre-existing immune problems are at greatest risk for serious problems.
Which test is right for you?
There are currently two common tests for COVID-19: the nasal/oral swab test and a finger prick blood test. But which is best for what?
The nasal/oral swab test is exactly what it sounds like. A medical professional uses a long Q-tip to swab either inside your nose or your mouth. The test takes 10-15 seconds to complete and is painless. That swab is then sent to a lab for testing. The results are usually available within 1-3 days. This test tells you if you have ACTIVE disease that can be very contagious to anyone around you. This is the preferred test for anyone who is concerned about having the coronavirus or those who are worried about being actively contagious. This test can be performed by many doctors’ offices and urgent care clinics. It is simple, painless and an important test to understand if you have the virus now.
The other test is called a blood or antibody test. Antibodies are what the body makes in reaction to an infection. The body takes 7-10 days to make these antibodies, so this test is not a good indication of whether or not you have the disease today or if you are contagious. This test is currently only available at hospitals and specialty labs. Doctor offices and urgent cares are not routinely using this test. The antibody test requires a finger stick to get drops of blood to run the test. This blood test is probably going to be used as we are trying to get back to work to determine who has had the disease. This is NOT a good test to see if you are actively infected or contagious.
This may be a scary time for you and your family. CommunityMed Urgent Care is here to help you navigate this tough time. If you want to know if you are currently infected with the coronavirus and if you are contagious, the nasal/oral swab is the correct test for you. It is simple, painless and quick. Check-in to CommunityMed urgent care and get you and your family tested. The results take a few days, but this is the best test for determining infectivity.
CommunityMed Urgent Care clinics have set-up virtual check-in for your convenience and safety. We will have you wait in your car until your appointment time. We will call or text you in your car when your testing room is clean and ready. Once tested, you can go right back to your car. We also have a dedicated nurse who reviews test results several times a day so you will get a call with your test result the day it is available from the lab.
Go to covid.communitymedcare.com to make an appointment today and start your paperwork from your home or on your phone.