• Hunter Heath

COVID-19: Taking Precautions and Understanding the Testing

Updated: Oct 15


During times of COVID-19, it’s important to take the necessary precautions to avoid getting sick or transmitting the sickness to friends, family, and coworkers. When the unfortunate occurs or seems to have occurred, the next step is to understand the options for COVID-19 testing and make sure you're choosing whichever options are the most accessible and most appropriate for your scenario.


Precautions:

  • Avoid unnecessary high-contact surfaces

  • Avoid close contact with those who are sick or report symptoms associated with sickness

  • Avoid contact with others if you are sick or experiencing symptoms associated with sickness

  • Regularly clean and disinfect inside the home to minimize transmission of outside contaminants

  • Use hand sanitizer regularly

  • Practice good everyday hygiene habits

  • Practice social distancing of ~6 ft when possible

  • Socialize outdoors in open spaces when possible

  • Consider available Vaccinations

  • Wear a mask as another layer of defense

Wearing masks whether you’re vaccinated or not:

Many people are wondering about the recommendations for those who are vaccinated to continue wearing masks around others. This has been in response to increases in infection rates with the discovery of the virus’ Delta variant. This variant of the COVID-19 virus is now considered to be dominant in the US and is known to spread more easily.


It’s known that those who are vaccinated are at a lower risk of getting sick from the Delta variant. Even though vaccinated individuals are less likely to spread the virus, this variant is more capable of getting into the cells that line the nose, mouth, and throat meaning they can still get inside the cells and replicate. This increases the “viral load” or amount of virus found in the body and explains why people who are fully vaccinated can still transmit the virus to other people.


This is why wearing masks can still be such a critical action taken by people everywhere.

Masks can help reduce the number of airborne particles that we breathe in and breathe out and increase the degree of protection for ourselves and others when combined with other safety measures like getting vaccinated.

Testing Methods:

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Test: Also called a molecular test, is a COVID-19 test that detects the genetic material of the virus using this PCR lab technique. This method takes longer to process the results but is typically more accurate than an antigen test and can be performed with or without signs and symptoms.

Antigen Test: This test can detect certain proteins in the virus. An antigen test result is considered to be accurate as long as the instructions are followed closely. However, there’s still a chance of receiving false-negative results which is when you get a negative result even though you’re actually infected with the virus. It’s for this reason that a doctor may request a PCR test to confirm a negative antigen test result.

Sources:

“Coronavirus.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization,

https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_2


“How to Protect Yourself and Others.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html.

“Preventing the Spread of the Coronavirus.” Harvard Health, 7 Sept. 2021, https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/preventing-the-spread-of-the-coronavirus.


Maragakis, Lisa Lockerd. “How Can I Protect Myself (and Others) from the New Coronavirus and COVID-19?” Johns Hopkins Medicine, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/how-can-i-protect-myself-from-coronavirus.


“Testing for COVID-19.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/testing.html#:~:text=COVID%2D19%20tests%20are%20available,(NAATs)%20and%20antigen%20tests.


NC COVID-19, https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/about-covid-19/testing.


“COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 3 Aug. 2021, https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/covid-19-diagnostic-test/about/pac-20488900.


“Differences Between Rapid & PCR Tests.” PhysicianOne Urgent Care, 16 July 2021, https://physicianoneurgentcare.com/blog/whats-the-difference-between-rapid-pcr-covid-19-tests/.

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