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What you need to know about getting tested for COVID-19

If you want to get a test for novel coronavirus, you probably aren’t alone.

While testing may provide some reassurance, said Dr. Phillip Coule, chief medical officer for Augusta University Health, for many patients, it won’t significantly change the course of treatment.

“Approximately 80 percent of people will experience mild to no symptoms,” Coule said. “Even if there were enough tests to identify and isolate all of these cases, it wouldn’t change the current treatment options: isolate at home and self-monitor symptoms for 14 days.”

Coule said due to limited testing capability, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Georgia Department of Public Health recommend prioritizing testing for patients who are at risk for complications due to infection and those in contact with high-risk patients, such as medical staff.

The CDC does not currently recommend testing for people without symptoms, or those people with symptoms who are otherwise healthy and under age 18.

“Given the current limits, state and federal agencies recommend only testing when it would make a difference in their care, such as with the categories currently included in the testing protocols,” he said.

There will be exceptions to those groups, he said, and the current categories will likely be expanded as more tests become available.

Coule said people who are sick with respiratory illness who aren’t candidates for testing should follow the same guidance as those who are known positive for the virus: isolate at home and self-monitor symptoms for 14 days.

If symptoms worsen or fever of 100.4 or greater develops, people should immediately call their health care provider prior to visiting an emergency department or doctor’s office.

For more information, call the hotline at 706-721-1852. Also, continue to check our dedicated COVID-19 resource page for updates.

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