Doctor explains why you shouldn’t rush to get tested for COVID after exposure

Updated: Sep. 11, 2020 at 12:15 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - As soon as catching wind of possible exposure to COVID, a person’s immediate reaction might be to run to the nearest testing site. However, some experts say a negative test result might be inaccurate.

Dr. Eric Yazel with the Floyd County Health Department says a person should wait five days after possibly being exposed to get tested for the coronavirus.

A person gets tested for the coronavirus at a drive-thru testing site in Louisville
A person gets tested for the coronavirus at a drive-thru testing site in Louisville

“That’s one thing that we talked about a lot when this all started,” Yazel said. “There’s about a 30% false-negative rate there and I think that’s kind of fallen by the wayside and everything. We do need to still remember that, especially if you are going to do high-risk things.”

Yazel says people should ask about turnaround times on test results before making an appointment. Some labs can take up to two weeks, while others can get results in a day or two.

Rapid testing that’s in the works can get results even quicker, like a strep test. However, the FDA warns up to half of those tests could come back with a false negative.

While some are still questioning the accuracy of COVID-19 tests, Yazel says they will be a serious asset.

“That’s kind of a game-changer when you have a worrisome situation, you can have results back in hours instead of days,” Yazel said.

Medical experts also recommend getting a flu shot this year, so it will be easier to determine whether a patient is fighting the flu or COVID.

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