When the national shutdown was announced in March, people
seemed to panic and believe almost every source that covered the virus. In
addition to wearing masks and staying home when possible, getting tested for
the virus is one of the most important things that you can do before
interacting with anyone outside of your household. In the beginning, testing
was generally reserved for individuals who were experiencing symptoms, as there
were no clear guidelines on what to test for yet, but now the medical community
and the Food and Drug Administration have gotten an idea of what the testing
process is like.
What kinds of tests are there? How do they work?
the testing available in the U.S. is referred to as a PCR test. According to an
article on The Wall Street Journal's website, the test searches for
genetic material left by the virus in nasal swabs or saliva samples. Typically,
medical personnel will swab the inside of your nose or cheek or ask you to spit
into a tube. Antigen tests look for proteins instead of genetic codes, so that
they can be used at nursing homes and other settings where large groups of
people need quick testing.
You can get tested at drive-thru
locations listed in your area, pharmacies, or even doctor's offices. Because of
how quickly the virus can spread, many businesses are mandating that their
employees be tested, and schools are requiring students be tested before
returning to campus.
waiting period after getting tested is one of the hardest times to go through.
It can take anywhere from 15 minutes to a week or more to get your results from
a PCR test, depending on where you go to get tested and the demand for testing
at the time.
testing works a little differently because of how quickly it gives results.
Because these tests look for proteins instead of genetic material, they are
usually only offered to people who have symptoms or who know that they've been
in contact with someone who was infected. To compare the way that antigen tests
work with something similar that most people would be familiar with, think of a
home pregnancy test. Since the two types of Covid tests look for different
things, it is also said that antigen tests are not as accurate as the PCR tests
and could potentially deliver a false negative.
are exposed to the virus or are exhibiting symptoms, both tests could be free
or paid for by your insurance. However, if you are getting tested as a
precaution and don't have insurance, the PCR tests run anywhere from $60-$300,
and the antigen tests can range from $25 to over $100. However, many testing sites
offer free testing in New Orleans, so do your research before you go.
deeper nasal PCR tests are said to be uncomfortable or painful, while the
regular nasal swabs tend to be momentarily discomforting, since they cause
people to sneeze. Saliva samples are thought of to be the most innocuous, since
they are the least invasive. When considering getting tested, check all
available information or ask your healthcare provider, to know what to prepare
How do I handle my results?
results are probably the most important part of testing, and the waiting game
for them is no joke. While waiting for results, it is incredibly important to
follow all social-distancing guidelines, wear a mask, and stay home as much as
possible. Testing is done at a single moment, so it is always possible that it
may not detect an infection. Even if you do receive a negative test result, you
should continue to follow all protective measures. Wash your hands frequently,
even if you don't think you need to.