Ahead of the holiday season, medical professionals are urging everyone with plans to visit with family and friends to get Covid tested ahead of time.
To be clear, the real advice is to stay home and celebrate only with those in your household. But, there are ways to make visiting with others safer, and that starts with testing.
Who can get tested? Right now county officials are encouraging people to get tested regardless of symptoms or known exposure. Unlike the beginning of the pandemic, tests are readily available.
[Related Agenda story: Coronavirus in Charlotte: Covid hospitalizations surge ahead of Thanksgiving]
Three types of tests:
- Molecular test – The most accurate test to determine if you currently have Covid-19. It involves a cotton swab up the nose, but don’t worry, it’s not going to poke your brain. Results typically take a couple days to a week.
- Antigen test – This also involves a swab up the nose. Results come back in an hour or less. They’re good for determining positive test results, but negative results aren’t as reliable.
- Antibody test – Antibody tests determine whether you’ve been exposed to Covid-19 in the past. They require a blood draw (more on that later).
How it works: Many of Charlotte’s testing sites are drive-thru style so you’ll stay in your car for the entire process. The test itself is free, and most locations offer tests to those with and without health insurance.
Where: There are dozens of testing sites around the county. Use this interactive map to find the site most convenient to you.
Antibody tests: These tests determine whether a person has been exposed to coronavirus and has the antibodies to fight the virus. Here are some of the places they’re offered around Charlotte.
- Novant Health is offering antibody tests at all of its urgent care locations. Those who want the test can make an appointment online.
- StarMed is offering free antibody tests for first responders and front line workers, but anyone can make an appointment to get tested.
- OneBlood is still taking blood donations during the pandemic. The donation center announced all donations will be tested for Covid antibodies.
- Atrium Health is now offering antibody testing. Those who want the test can make an appointment online.
- BetterMed is offering antibody testing at both of its Mecklenburg County locations.
- ARCpoint Labs is offering antibody testing at its locations in the Carolinas including Monroe and Rock Hill.
How it works: The testing process is fairly easy, just a simple blood draw. Results take about two to four days.
It’s important to note people with coronavirus antibodies aren’t necessarily immune to the virus. Nor does a negative result rule out coronavirus infection. But getting the test can help researchers learn more about the disease and develop treatment for critically ill coronavirus patients.
For more Covid-19 coverage: