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Experts Say More People Test Negative for COVID Before Popping Positive

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People are testing negative for COVID-19 multiple times before popping positive, according to Chicago’s Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady. This is most likely due to the newer subvariants and the rise in vaccination numbers.

Dr. Arwady acknowledged that experts believe happens “especially if people are fully vaccinated and or if they’ve had COVID before, they’re not always…getting as sick.” She added that those who do test negative several times before popping positive are less “likely to have enough virus to be spreading, to be contagious.”

At home COVID-19 antigen tests are less sensitive than PCR ones. Individuals who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or those who have been exposed to the virus should wear a face mask for 10 full days regardless of their test results stated Arwady.

Even though the at-home tests are less sensitive they are still “highly reliable,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency further warns people that a negative result may not mean a person is not infected, particularly in those with symptoms.

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Courtesy of Diverse Stock Photos (Flickr CC0)

Over-the-counter (OTC) tests are different from laboratory-based ones. Instead of waiting days for results, people can receive them within minutes.

Home tests don’t detect antibodies — which suggest prior infection — nor do they measure an individual’s level of immunity. People who are experiencing symptoms should take an at-home test or a laboratory one immediately.

Those who have been exposed to someone who has tested positive should test at least five days after they have been exposed. If an individual tests negative they should retest within 24 to 48 hours.

Anyone who’s planning to attend an indoor event or gathering should test themselves for COVID-19 prior to the engagement. This is especially important for those who are older, immunocompromised, at risk of severe disease, or those who are not up to date on their COVID vaccinations.

People can order free tests at COVIDtest.gov or through their local health departments. They can also purchase them at their local pharmacies, retail stores, and online. Some private health insurances may reimburse individuals for the cost of COVID-19 self-tests. Individuals can also visit a community testing site, their physicians, or contact their local health department for more options.

Written by Sheena Robertson

Sources:

CDC: COVID-19 Self-Testing
NBC 5: More People Testing Negative for COVID Before Eventually Testing Positive, Top Doc Says. Here’s Why

Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Michaela Pereckas’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Diverse Stock Photos’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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Cathrine Osborne, DM

Infectious Disease Physician

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