Experts weigh in on when to get tested for COVID

NOW: Experts weigh in on when to get tested for COVID

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- The more contagious Omicron variant is spreading quickly across the nation.

The uptick in cases is causing many to have difficulty finding quick testing options — leaving some confused on when exactly they should test themselves after being exposed.

Experts say the lack of testing appointments has led to an increase in people taking at-home tests, using kits like Binax Now. While the kits can detect the new variant they say they can also produce false positives - so they recommend getting a PCR exam to get the most accurate results.

“Dos dias, dos dias despues de que ella salió positiva yo salí en dos dias positivo," said Jorge Padilla, a South Bend Resident.

Padilla who tested positive for COVID just two days after his wife did wasn’t showing any symptoms like many in Michiana. St. Joseph County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Mark Fox says the lack of symptoms for fully vaccinated folks with the Omicron variant has made it increasingly difficult to determine when people should get tested.

“If people are symptomatic than almost any of the tests should be reliable, but in somebody who you know has no symptoms or testing based on an exposure then the 3-5 day window is ideal, but most of the recommendations now say especially because of the shortage of tests available to test on day 5," said Dr. Fox.

With long lines and empty shelves Fox says many are being encouraged to test on day 5 — so they don’t test too early resulting in a false negative.

Despite this, he says once you show one symptom or know you’ve been exposed, you should plan to begin quarantining for at least five days — as encouraged by the CDC.

“The reality is with the shortage of tests you know the better part of it is to just to go home and go to bed or at least restrict your activity and not be circulating in the community for the period of time that you’re likely contagious," said Dr. Fox.

For some like Padilla --- catching the virus and seeing it continue to spread --- has caused him to schedule his first dose of the vaccine.

“No puedo darme mas chances porque estamos, estamos este muy vunerables a garrar un contacto. Y el que no esta protehido con ninguna vacuna va garrar," said Padilla.

Dr. Fox says the health department is working to come up with a reporting system for those who test positive with at-home tests to keep contact tracing data as up to date as possible.

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