Editor’s Note: The Iredell County Health Department issued the following information on Friday to help residents better understand COVID-19 testing.

Special to Iredell Free News

There are two types of testing available for the novel strain of coronavirus (COVID-19): viral tests and
antibody tests.

A viral test tells you if you are currently infected with COVID-19 and an antibody test tells you if you have previously been infected with COVID-19.

The most popular testing being done for suspected COVID-19 is viral testing. This test is the only test that will tell you if you are currently infected with COVID-19. It must be done by a medical professional using a nasal swab.

If you test positive for COVID-19 by a viral test, it’s important that you isolate from others in order to prevent further spread. If you test negative with a viral test, it does not mean that you will not get COVID-19 in the future.

Also, if you were recently exposed to someone infected with COVID-19, you may not have enough virus in your body to test positive at the time of testing. It’s important to remember the result only means you did not have COVID-19 at the time of testing.

Most people who are infected will have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive and feel you need to be tested, we encourage you to reach out to your healthcare provider.

Information on local testing sites in Iredell County can be found on our website: https://www.co.iredell.nc.us/1383/Coronavirus-COVID-19

An antibody test is done by having a simple blood draw. This type of testing will not show current infection because it typically takes one to three weeks after infection for your body to make antibodies. It is not currently known if having antibodies to the virus can protect someone from getting infected again or how long that protection might last.

Positive antibody test results are not currently accepted by the N.C. Department of Health & Human Services and will not count toward the overall or county COVID-19 case count.

The antibody tests that are currently available have some limitations and the accuracy of the tests varies. The performance of these tests is currently being evaluated by the CDC in collaboration with other federal organizations. To receive antibody testing, you are encouraged to reach out to your healthcare provider or contact a local lab and inquire about their available testing options.

The Iredell County Health Department does not currently offer COVID-19 testing to the community. Our
agency continues to work with local medical providers, labs, long-term care facilities and Iredell County EMS to ensure testing is available to those who need it.

Protect Yourself & Others

It is recommended that you continue to take preventative measures to protect yourself and others by following the guidance below:
• Practice social distancing, which means avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people while keeping 6 feet or more between you;
• Frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the
bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not
readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol;
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw it in the trash;
• Stay home when you’re sick and keep distance from others who are sick;
• Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands;
• Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces in common areas like doorknobs, remotes, light switches, tables, handles, steering wheels, wallets and phones; and
• Wear a cloth mask or face covering when out in public where you may be around people like grocery
stores or pharmacies and still try to practice social distancing, wash your hands and keep your hands
away from your mouth, nose and eyes.

LEARN MORE

For general information from the Iredell County Health Department about COVID-19, visit the COVID-19 webpage: https://www.co.iredell.nc.us/1383/Coronavirus-COVID-19

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