If you're like most people, you can't wait for the COVID-19 pandemic to be over. Thankfully, vaccines are on the rise and cases are dropping; but that doesn't mean you should get complacent.
To keep flattening that curve, it's more important than ever to identify positive cases of the virus.
Here are six reasons why you may still need a COVID test.
You have symptoms
The most obvious reason for getting tested would be if you have any of the classic symptoms. You can probably repeat them from memory by now, but this includes a fever, cough, chills, body aches, shortness of breath, and loss of taste or smell.
(To see the full list of symptoms, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.)
You've been exposed to someone who has tested positive
You should also get tested if you've been in close contact with anyone who has tested positive for the virus.
What does "close contact" mean? According to state guidelines, it means:
- You were closer than 6 feet from someone who has tested positive for the virus for a total of 15 minutes or longer in a 24-hour period.
- You cared for someone at home who is sick and tested positive for COVID-19.
- You had direct physical contact with the person who has tested positive for COVID-19 (hugged or kissed them).
- You shared eating or drinking utensils with the person who has tested positive for COVID-19.
- The person who has tested positive for COVID-19 sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you.
Your employer might require it
While you aren't required to show a negative test result to return to work after being sick, your employer may require testing at some point.
Utah's coronavirus guidelines state that "Because COVID-19 poses a direct threat to the health of others, it is within the rights of an employer to administer COVID-19 testing to employees to determine if they have the virus."
You have an elective procedure coming up
Now that cases appear to be declining, many hospitals resumed elective surgeries that were put off last year.
If you have a procedure coming up, your doctor or the hospital could require a negative COVID test before you come in. A positive result could delay things by a few days or even longer, so taking extra precautions beforehand may save you from having to reschedule.
Since travel restrictions vary by location, you may need to provide proof of a negative test when you arrive or return from a trip.
Make sure you know the travel requirements for departure and arrival ahead of time. Covid Clinic has a complete list of worldwide air travel requirements at https://covidclinic.org/travel.
For example, if you're traveling internationally your arrival country likely requires proof of a negative test. If you're returning from a foreign country, the CDC requires that you present a negative COVID test no more than three days before your flight leaves. Proof of a negative test is also required for travel to Hawaii.
Luckily for you, certain testing sites offer fast results when you need them right away.
The virus is still here
It's easy to assume that just because cases have declined that means COVID is somehow disappearing. But here's the truth: The virus is most likely here to stay. At least that's what scientists reported in a recent survey conducted by Nature.com.
Before you start to panic about being socially-distanced and locked up in quarantine indefinitely, there's good news. Much like a common cold or flu virus, COVID may become just another illness that goes around from person to person without causing too much harm.
And as more people get vaccinated and immunity increases, it becomes much less foreboding.
"My guess is, enough people will get it and enough people will get the vaccine to reduce person-to-person transmission," Paul Duprex, director of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Vaccine Research told National Geographic. "There will be pockets of people who won't take [the vaccines], there will be localized outbreaks, but it will become one of the 'regular' coronaviruses."
WebMD estimates it may take nine months or more for the population to reach herd immunity. Until that happens, everyone needs to do their part to curb the spread—and that includes getting tested if the need arises.
How to get fast COVID-19 test results
If you are planning a vacation or need testing results ASAP, Covid Clinic offers expedited PCR results in as little as one day.
Covid Clinic currently has seven locations in Utah with convenient, safe drive-thru testing, with two more opening soon.
Covid Clinic's tests satisfy worldwide travel restriction requirements and may be eligible for reimbursement through your health insurance provider.
To learn more or to find a testing location near you, visit covidclinic.org.