Many people across the globe are scratching their heads and trying to wrap their minds around the fact that it seems near impossible to get tested for it. How do we stop this pandemic if we don’t even know who has it?
As testing ramps up around the world, we also have to contend with the fact that tests are in short supply. Not only are they in short supply but the workers who are needed to perform these tests also can get sick as people continue their day to day lives and don’t practice in the extreme social distancing that we have all been told is needed to attempt to curb COVID-19.
One study led by researchers in Germany followed 9 people who had been in close contact with a known person to test positive for COVID-19. Researchers there did throat swabs and took samples of blood, urine, stool, and sputum from these 9 patients multiple times per day and across multiple days. They were able to determine that the first week of exposure produced the highest number of viral shedding of the virus. These studies showed that the RNA concentrations peaked before day 5. Studies also show that the average incubation period for COVID-19 is between 5 and 6 days.
This can mean that the highest risk to spread the disease is before you even start experiencing mild symptoms.
This is the number one reason why social distancing is so important!
You may think you’re okay but you could easily be spreading this disease unknowingly. When you spread it unknowingly, all the people you spread it to can spread it unknowingly. This is a very vicious cycle and leads to all of those exponential rises in numbers that we have been seeing throughout the world. This surge of people getting infected by the novel coronavirus then leads to our healthcare systems being overwhelmed. Once our healthcare systems start to become overwhelmed then they have to start making decisions about who gets treatment and who does not.
I know you’re still sitting here wondering about why you can’t be tested for COVID-19. I have heard some people make suggestions to just test everyone and then we know who has it and who doesn’t. Unfortunately, the supplies and laboratories are finite. Right now it is not uncommon for tests to take 5+ days to come back as laboratories are working round the clock to make results happen – they simply cannot keep up with the demand.
Because of the limited resources, it is not uncommon to hear from your local health authorities that you need to stay home and isolate yourselves from everyone. They are suggesting that only in the event of an emergency or if you experience difficulties breathing do you call an ambulance or seek medical care.
While this approach seems radical to some, it is the approach we should all be taking right now. It doesn’t matter if you have tested positive for COVID-19 or if you think you are 100% healthy. You can be infecting others so you should only be going out if absolutely necessary and follow all protocols recommended for cleaning and sanitizing yourself, your belongings, and your home.
No matter which angle you look at this from, we are going to be fighting this disease together. Let’s all do our part now and try to tackle COVID-19 head on. Let’s not let it carelessly take any more of our elderly or immunocompromised community.
Are you and your family doing your part by partaking in extreme social distancing? I’d love to hear about what you guys are doing to stay happy, healthy, and busy at home in the comment below!