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Summit County Health Commissioner Donna Skoda explains the types of COVID-19 tests available for Ohioans

Posted at 11:07 AM, Jul 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-22 12:17:31-04

SUMMIT COUNTY, Ohio — Since the start of July, nearly 20,000 coronavirus tests are given statewide every day. More Ohioans now wondering if they're infected with the contagious virus.

But with the expansion of testing, are the results accurate?

News 5 sought answers from the Summit County Health Commissioner, Donna Skoda. She explained the two types of COVID-19 tests and their reliability.

Diagnostic Tests

Diagnostics tests are what the mass majority of Ohioans are using. This type of test can show if you have an active coronavirus infection and whether you should take steps to quarantine or isolate yourself from others. Most of these tests are conducted using nasal swabs. Results from the lab can take a few days. Right now, labs across the country are backed up with tests due to the high demand.

Skoda said at this time, these are the most reliable tests doctors have to detect the virus. However, she added, in order to have the most accurate reading, the test has to be taken at just the right time.

"That is a point in time test. You could be negative today and positive tomorrow and we’ve seen it," Skoda said.

She stressed the importance of viral load - or the total amount of virus a person has inside them. The health commissioner said in order to have an accurate test reading, the swab has to have enough.

"So if you're just starting to get sick and you don't get the swap back far enough, you might not get a positive result yet. And so that's why we caution people, you can be negative today and positive tomorrow, and that's why you've got to be very careful."

Antibody Tests

Antibody tests draw your blood and look for antibodies that are made by your immune system. According to the FDA, antibodies can take several days or weeks to develop after you have an infection and may stay in your blood for several weeks or more after recovery.

Skoda called these types of tests less reliable and said they give people a false sense of immunity.

"Because this is such a new virus, and a lot is unknown about it, not all of them really been able to verify how accurate they really are," she said.

The bottom line, Sokda said, if you want to get a coronavirus test, call your primary care physician and stay at home until your results come back.

"You gotta stay home until you get the test results back, as painful as that is, she said. "You cannot run around. You cannot go to work, because if you're sick enough or you think you need that test, you need to stay home until you get it."

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