Covid Testing Information from Medical Director Liz Siraco, MD
To all our valued MRPG patients and families,
As the rise in Covid 19 continues in our communities, we all want to do what is best to protect ourselves and our families. Often times, according to the experts, this includes getting a Covid 19 test.
The messages from the CDC and DPH make a lot of sense, but unfortunately there is not currently adequate testing supplies available for hospitals and other healthcare facilities to keep up with the demand.
There are two main types of diagnostic tests for Covid-19: molecular testing commonly referred to as a PCR test, and antigen testing. Rapid Antigen testing is quite good at identifying virus in even mildly symptomatic patients early in the infectious period. The PCR test, a more sensitive test, can pick up asymptomatic patients who may be infectious and spread the virus before they have symptoms. While our ability to offer PCR tests is limited, as of now, we do continue to offer Rapid Antigen testing.
IF I AM SYMPTOMATIC, WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
- Patients with mild potential symptoms for Covid-19 (cough, congestion, muscle aches, fever, loss of taste or smell, mild GI symptoms) should quarantine and call their primary care provider (PCP). He/she will be able to guide you via telehealth regarding testing guidelines. It is important to note that being tested too early may lead to a false result.
- Patients with high fever, shortness of breath or other concerning symptoms are considered high risk for Covid 19. You should call your PCP who will likely direct you to the ER or Urgent Care location to be further evaluated and tested.
IF I AM ASYMPTOMATIC, WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
- Patients who are asymptomatic, but are a close household contact to a known-positive Covid-19 patient or a suspected Covid-19 patient who has results pending, should be tested. The ideal time to get tested is 3-5 days after exposure to the contact. Patients can call their PCP to discuss where to get a test, or find information regarding statewide testing sites on mass.gov/stopthespread.
- If you are Massachusetts public school student, you will need a PCR test on day 8 after exposure in order to return to school provided you remain asymptomatic.
- If you are asymptomatic but want a test for any reason, you may go to one of our urgent care locations and get a Rapid Antigen test. The test results are typically available in 15 minutes, but there is an up-front cost of $150 for the test.
- If you have travelled and need a test upon return to Massachusetts, state regulations require that this is a PCR test. You should consult mass.gov/stopthespread to find the closest testing site to you. Some testing locations require payment at the time of the test. Milford Regional Urgent Care is not currently able to provide this testing.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION TO REMEMBER:
It is crucial to remember though that testing only indicates your status at a moment in time. Testing is indicative of whether you are carrying the virus at the time of the test. If you have been exposed and become infected, testing immediately after the exposure will never result in a positive result. It is best to wait 5 days after exposure to be tested, as it takes time to build enough virus to be detectable via testing. Because there is potential for false negative results, it’s critical that if you have potentially been exposed, you appropriately quarantine to avoid spread of the virus. For example, an individual could have a negative test on Monday, be exposed to Covid-19 on Tuesday, and spread the virus asymptomatically on Thursday, Friday, and so on until symptoms develop.
Because testing is not perfect, it remains crucial to wear a mask, wash your hands and continue to social distance at all times. It is important to NOT mingle with those outside your immediate family as much as possible.
We understand that these are uncertain and challenging times, and we are doing all we can to provide MRPG patients with the most up-to-date information regarding the Covid-19 virus and related testing.
In good health,
Liz Siraco, MD
MRPG Medical Director