With limited at-home rapid tests available, local doctor weighs in on COVID testing

Published: Dec. 27, 2021 at 5:52 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Almost 100 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Monday, Dec. 27 in the Shenandoah Valley: that’s lower than the seven-day average of 123 cases.

With the omicron variant’s transmissibility and gatherings over the holidays, there’s greater demand for at-home rapid tests. For many, the tests are hard to find.

Health officials said taking the decision to get tested can be complicated especially considering Omicron symptoms in vaccinated individuals often look like allergies. Sentara’s hospitalist Russ Ford said, if you have symptoms, test earlier rather than later.

“I think if a person [who] has not been vaccinated, and they have these symptoms, I would definitely get tested early on because starting the treatments early on make them much more effective,” Ford said.

However, for many people, very little changes in their day-to-day when they receive a positive test. With that, Ford said it’s best not to test routinely -- like daily or weekly -- unless you have to.

“If you have no symptoms and test positive, what would you do differently with that information? In general, we ask people that are considering getting tested for anything to consider, if the results are positive rather than negative, what it changes for the person,” Ford said.

For people who are often around vulnerable populations, the guidance is different.

“There are some young children in the home, or perhaps there are some compromised older parents or something like that, that may give them the heads up to stay away.”

Ford said, for the most protection against omicron, you should be vaccinated and get a booster, on top of wearing a mask and social distancing.

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