Should I be tested for coronavirus and is the test affordable?

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Coronavirus in Utah: Should I be tested for coronavirus and is the test affordable?

A rendering of coronavirus via the CDC.

(ABC4 News) — Following the NBA’s suspension of the season due to Jazz players testing positive for coronavirus, the entire Jazz team and those who attended the most recent Jazz game, are being tested for the virus. 

With all the attention around the quick-spreading virus, many could be wondering if they have been exposed to the virus, if they should be tested and how much testing costs. 

ABC4 News spoke to Nicholas Rupp, the Communications and Public Relations Manager for the Salt Lake County Health Department for answers.

According to Rupp, most insurance companies have agreed to waive fees for coronavirus testing. 

However, there are very few people who actually need to be tested. Rupp said only those who have recently traveled to affected areas of the world, who have been in very close contact with individuals infected with the virus, and those who are experiencing fever, cough, and shortness of breath should be tested for coronavirus.

Rupp said that those experiencing these symptoms should call their healthcare provider to see if they are suffering from the flu or other respiratory ailments instead. 

After other viruses have been ruled out, they can then request testing. Rupp said only those who are experiencing symptoms will have their test come back positive. Those who are not experiencing symptoms will not test positive for the virus.

How does the coronavirus test work?

The CDC is working to develop a new laboratory test to assist with efforts to determine how much of the U.S population has been exposed to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19.

A researcher works in a lab that is developing testing for the COVID-19 coronavirus at Hackensack Meridian Health Center for Discovery and Innovation on February 28, 2020 in Nutley, New Jersey. The facility develops novel therapies for some of the worlds most difficult diseases. At least 53 countries have reported cases of infection. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

Initial work to develop a serology test for SARS-CoV-2 is underway at CDC.  In order to develop the test, CDC needs blood samples from people who had COVID-19 at least 21 days after their symptoms first started. Researchers are currently working to develop the basic parameters for the test, which will be refined as more samples become available. Once the test is developed, CDC will need additional samples to evaluate whether the test works as intended.

What is COVID-19? 

Coronavirus, known as COVID-19 is a new virus that has not been previously identified. The virus is circulating among humans causing mass illness with symptoms similar to the common cold. 

Symptoms range from mild to severe with possible death. The following symptoms may appear 2-12 days after an individual has been exposed. 

Symptoms include: 

  • Fever 
  • Cold 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Respiratory illness

What is it like to be tested?

A swab taken from the patient’s nasal cavity to gather cells from behind the nose.

The sample is sent to a lab to determine if the patient has contracted the virus.

Do we have enough tests?

The amount of tests in the United States has been a concerning issue. As the number of confirmed cases rise in the United States, more and more doctors are approving testing. 

Prior to February 29th, the CDC was the only place approved by the FDA to develop, produce and process results.

Local based companies such as Co-Diagnostics has created affordable and advanced technology that brings test results quickly.

Another issue is cost, the FDA has announced a new policy on February 29th to make the process easier for laboratories to produce their own tests. 

Using the CDC-developed diagnostic test, a negative result means that the virus that causes COVID-19 was not found in the person’s sample. In the early stages of infection, it is possible the virus will not be detected.

For COVID-19, a negative test result for a sample collected while a person has symptoms likely means that the COVID-19 virus is not causing their current illness.

This week, it was announced by Health and Human Services that over 2 million testing kits are now available.

Should I be tested for Coronavirus? 

Early information out of China where COVID-19 started says some of the people at higher risk of getting very sick include:

  • Older adults
  • People who have serious chronic medical conditions like:
    • Heart disease
    • Diabetes
    • Lung disease

The CDC suggests that if an outbreak happens in your community, it could last for an extended period of time

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