The first positive test in the United States for COVID-19 arrived on January 20, 2020. Since then, the US has performed over 300 million COVID-19 tests. The Biden Administration has vowed to increase the number of tests being performed as well. With vaccinations rolling out is COVID-19 testing still useful?
COVID-19 Testing in Key in Stopping the Virus
59% of COVID-19 transmission comes from those who are asymptomatic. Early in our testing these people did not have access to the tests because then we did not realize the role that these carriers would play. Now we know that many people can still be infectious without symptoms and testing them could help stop the transmission of the virus.
Testing for COVID-19 is more than useful, it is a critical tool in tracking this respiratory virus. By performing adequate testing, we can ensure that we are tracking the progression of the virus and getting accurate case counts. Testing also informs us of where the virus is circulating and when and where to implement interventions including tracing and isolation.
There is a Need for More Testing
Over the course of the past year the number of tests administered has improved greatly. There was a time when only those who were gravely ill were able to obtain a test. With COVID-19 testing being a critical step in stopping the virus, we are still falling short in our measures. In many locations Americans say that is nearly impossible to get an appointment for a COVID-19 test.
Currently America only has the capacity to perform 250 million COVID-19 tests per month. It is hopeful by April we will be able to perform more than 750 million tests per month, which should be enough for America to obtain a consistent testing regimen.
Testing Turnaround Times Have Also Improved
In August of 2020, people were waiting an average of four days after being tested to be notified that they had tested positive. Without knowing that they are carrying the virus, people are likely to continue to transmit it to those around them. The longer the turnaround time for the test is, the less valuable the test becomes. Ideally, we want for the test results to come back within one day. The majority of tests are now being completed and results given in less than 48 hours.
If You Think You May Have or Have Been Exposed to COVID-19
Remember that all Americans are entitled to free COVID-19 testing regardless of insurance or finances. If you think you have been exposed, could be sick, or simply want to be tested for COVID-19 visit your local urgent care office online or in office.