What You Need to Know-Week of December 7th

The most important weekly updates for you to keep your community healthy




In this Update:

1. Information You Need: State of COVID-19 in Arizona

2. Information You Need: Testing Purpose & Tests Available

3.  Information You Need: I think I may have COVID-19, but why should I get tested?




1. Information You Need: State of COVID-19 in Arizona



COVID-19 cases are on the rise all across the country, and Arizona is no exception. We are seeing a second spike that is ALREADY surpassing the spike that occured in July. With the holidays approaching, this is normally a time for celebrating in person together, but it is now more important than ever to stay home so that we can all get back to normal as soon as possible. Most of us are feeling extreme pandemic fatigue, but we must remain focused and diligent on the seriousness of this virus. One of our University of Arizona faculty posts weekly updates on our situation in Arizona, visit this link. The forecasts are stark and predict upcoming months will be the worst we have seen during the pandemic. Hospitals are overwhelmed and the capacity is extremely low and as medical personnel also become infected, that capacity becomes even lower. 

For exact case counts, total percent diagnostic tests that are returning positive, new deaths, and more COVID-19 summary information, visit this daily updated link



2. Information You Need: Testing Purpose & Tests Available



What is the main purpose of a diagnostic test?

  • There is more on this topic coming soon, but receiving a negative diagnostic test should not be used as an “okay” to get together with family and friends or attend holiday gatherings. Negative diagnostic tests do not 100% guarantee that someone does not have COVID-19. However, in conjunction with a two week self-quarantine, a negative test can be a good indicator that a person does not have the virus – but there is always a certain level of risk.
  • Some testing centers are also turning away people who have not had a known COVID-19 exposure or who do not currently have symptoms. 

Can I test out of quarantine?

  • The CDC recently changed their guidelines on quarantine. While they still strongly recommend that most people quarantine for 14 days, they recognize this can be very challenging. Under some circumstances people can be released from quarantine after 7 days with a negative test in the previous 48 hours and NO symptoms. It is ALWAYS BEST to quarantine the full 14 days to reduce onward transmission. But if there are ample tests (which is not really the case right now with soaring numbers), it can be a possibility for some people.  

What tests are currently available?

Three major tests are currently available for COVID-19: the PCR test, the Antigen test, and the Antibody Test. The differences between the tests can be difficult to differentiate – especially because each test goes by a few names. The table below outlines how the tests differ from one another. To be sure of what test is best for you, or what test you received previously, consult a healthcare professional or the organization who provided the test.

Viral (Diagnostic) TestViral (Diagnostic) TestPrior Infection Test
What are the available COVID-19 tests?PCR TestAntigen TestAntibody Test
What other names are these tests called?Diagnostic test

Molecular test (some molecular tests can be rapid)

Viral test
Diagnostic test

Rapid test
Serologic test

Serology test

Blood test
What does the test tell you?Whether or not you currently have a COVID-19 infectionWhether or not you currently have a COVID-19 infectionIf you have had a previous COVID-19 infection
What is the test detecting?Genetic material of the virusSpecific proteins on the virus’s surfaceAntibodies created by your immune system in response to the virus
How accurate is the test?Highly accurateA positive result is highly accurate

A negative result may need another test
Fairly accurate; two antibody tests are recommended for more accurate results
What sample is taken?Most commonly  a respiratory swab

Usually taken from the nose or throat)

A few tests use saliva
Respiratory swab

Usually taken from the nose or throat)
Blood sample

Usually taken from a finger stick or blood draw
How long do results take (on average)?1 day or up to 1 week1-3 hours1 to 3 days

 For more information about testing, visit this link.


3.  Information You Need: I think I may have COVID-19, but why should I get tested?


If you believe that you have COVID-19, you may wonder why getting tested is even necessary. Here are some reasons why getting a diagnostic test to determine if you have COVID-19 is vital to your health, the health of others, and getting life back to normal. 

  1. Getting tested tells you if and when to isolate
  • By receiving a test you will have more information about if you have the virus.  If you receive a positive test you will use the date that you tested positive to start your 10 day isolation. It is important to isolate at least 10 days and until 24 hours past your last fever.  Completing a full isolation period helps to ensure that you are not contagious and do not accidentally spread the virus to others.
  1. Contact tracers can help contact your close contacts after a positive test
  • If you receive a positive test result, contact tracers may call you to check in on how you’re feeling, to help provide you with information about how to isolate, and to answer any questions you may have. These tracers can also contact any close contacts you have had during the time you are or were contagious to anonymously let them know that they should quarantine as well. 
  1. Testing helps increase our knowledge of the virus
  • The more information we have regarding testing and who is testing positive helps scientists learn more about how the virus is spreading, how fast the virus is spreading, who the virus is affecting most, and what can be done to slow the spread.
  1. Testing can improve the accuracy of statistics and data surrounding the virus
  • If people choose not to get tested for the virus, but are actually positive for COVID-19 they are not included in the data. This means that if many people with the virus do not get tested, counts of positive cases do not accurately reflect the number of COVID-19 cases. Therefore, there are likely many more cases of COVID-19 than the statistics report.
  1. Testing can save lives
  • The faster someone gets tested, the faster they are aware of their COVID-19 status. This means that they are likely to isolate quickly and avoid spreading the virus to others. Further, if someone is aware of their diagnosis they can receive hospital treatment or medical care more quickly.
  1. Testing can help you make important decisions
  • Knowledge is power! If you are not feeling well, have been around someone who tested positive, or are wanting to make sure that you do not have the virus, getting a test can help put you at ease by knowing your COVID-19 status. 

What can testing not do?






The next update will cover information on holiday gatherings. If you would like to learn more about this and other topics related to COVID-19 in Arizona, please complete next week’s AZCOVIDTXT survey that you will receive via text in about a week.

View Updates from Past Weeks:
Update from week of November 30th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of November 23rd (English | Spanish)
Update from week of November 16th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of November 9th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of November 2nd (English | Spanish)
Update from week of October 26th (English | Spanish)
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Update from week of September 28th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of September 21th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of September 14th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of September 7th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of August 31st (English | Spanish)
Update from week of August 24th (English | Spanish)
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Update from week of August 10th (English | Spanish)
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Update from week of May 11th (English | Spanish)
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Update from week of April 27th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of April 20th (English | Spanish)

 


 

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