COVID-19 Testing for The Delta Variant
Covid-19 is the top news story once again, and the headlines are not good. Across the country and around the world, cases of COVID-19 continue to rise. In early 2021, COVID-19 cases plateaued and then began to decrease, mainly due to the availability of vaccines. Masks seemed to disappear and people began to resume their pre-pandemic lives -- the world re-opened. In some situations, things appeared to be almost normal.
COVID-19 - The Delta Variant
In early summer 2021, the Delta variant of COVID-19 began making waves throughout the world. At first, it was overseas, but eventually, it made its way to the United States. This variation of the virus is incredibly contagious and it spreads rapidly, even amongst vaccinated individuals.
Hospitals across the country are beginning to report overcrowded emergency rooms and intensive care units. Some have even paused elective procedures in order to reserve resources for their COVID-19 positive patients. This trend is predicted to continue as the number of infected Americans is expected to rise.
Symptoms of COVID-19
While the Delta variant shares many of the same symptoms as earlier strains of the virus, new symptoms have also been detected in patients. Some of the symptoms (both old and new) being experienced by patients infected with the Delta variant may include:
Loss of Taste and Smell
Body and Muscle Aches
Nausea and Vomiting
It is important to recognize that some people infected with the Delta variant will show no symptoms at all. Thus, they may not realize they are sick. Because of this, they will likely continue to lead their normal lives and can unsuspectingly spread the virus, particularly if they are not wearing a face mask.
COVID-19 Testing: Who, When, and Where
The CDC has issued new guidelines for who should be tested for the virus. In response to new information and the spread of the Delta variant, the CDC is recommending that the following people should get tested:
Anyone (vaccinated or not) who has COVID-19 symptoms
Anyone (vaccinated or not) who believes they have been exposed to the virus or exposed to someone who may have the virus.
Those who are fully vaccinated should wait until they are three to five days post-exposure before getting tested. It is also recommended that they wear a mask when indoors in public for 14 days, or until their test results come back negative. This helps to protect the greater community.
On the other hand, those who are not vaccinated are directed to test immediately and quarantine for 14 days - regardless of their test results. If their initial test is negative, a second test should be taken five to seven days post-exposure, or if/when symptoms develop.
The only people for whom testing is not recommended are those who were infected with COVID-19 in the past three months AND who are NOT showing symptoms.
Testing sites are operating throughout the country, some offering rapid COVID-19 tests, providing results in as little as 15 minutes, while others are offering the PCR which needs to be sent to a lab for processing. If a patient receives a PCR test for COVID-19, they should quarantine until their results are provided, generally within 48-72 hours. The results from these tests can help determine if you have been infected with COVID-19, but in and of themselves do not determine if you have the Delta (or another) variant of the virus.
It’s important to note that the strain of COVID-19 that one is infected with is less important than how they react to the virus. If a person tests positive for COVID-19, quarantining for the recommended amount of time to protect others is critical.
Most importantly, the continued focus on symptomatic and exposure testing for COVID-19 is crucial. Without a doubt, the COVID-19 tests are a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to stopping the spread of the virus.