With increased availability of sampling supplies and broadened criteria for testing eligibility, no-cost COVID-19 testing is now possible for many more Mesa County residents than in the early days of the pandemic. Getting tested at the right time is essential for an accurate result.
According to Andy Tyler, regional epidemiologist at Mesa County Public Health (MCPH), unless someone is experiencing symptoms, the recommendation is to be tested no earlier than six days after exposure to the virus. Although the science around COVID-19 is still emerging, the incubation period for this new virus is believed to extend to 14 days, with a median time of about 5 days between exposure and symptom onset. Go in for testing too early and you may get a false negative, because the virus is still establishing itself and won’t be detected.
Although it can take a few days from the time you are exposed to when you may begin showing symptoms, it’s important to stay home and away from others if you know you’ve had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Similarly, if you have spent time in a large crowd, particularly where staying six feet apart is difficult and people were not wearing face coverings, be especially cautious. If you think you may have been exposed to the virus, you may want to get tested. You can still spread the virus before symptoms are noticeable, and some people infected with COVID-19 never experience symptoms.
How do I get tested for COVID-19?
If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 contact your health care provider or the MCPH hotline at 970-683-2300 to be screened for testing.
- Chills or repeated shaking with chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- Sore throat
- Loss of taste or smell
If you do not have symptoms, but work with the public, or were in a setting where you think you may have been exposed you may want to be screened for testing as well. There is no cost for COVID-19 testing at our community sampling site, however, appointments are required.
How can I protect myself from getting sick?
Following everyday precautions will help diminish the spread of COVID-19. Everyone should:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick and keep at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and anyone who doesn’t live with you.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face covering when 6 feet of distance from others is difficult to maintain.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or use the inside of your elbow.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.