6 June 2020 Post: When To Test After a Protest March
You may have seen Governor Andrew Cuomo urging any individual who attended a protest to get a COVID-19 test (and by ‘test’ he means a nasal or throat PCR swab, not an antibody test). His comments were followed up today by Dr. Anthony Fauci also observed that COVID-19 transmission rates will undoubtedly increase among Americans who aren’t wearing face masks, especially in large crowds.
“When you have crowds of people together and you have the lack of wearing a mask that increases the risk of there being transmissibility. I have no doubt about that,” he said during an interview Friday on CNBC’s “Halftime Report.” “When we see that not happening, there is a concern that that may actually propagate the further spread of infection.”
The question that neither of them answered, is when should one get a test? And, with most things coronavirus, the answer isn’t exactly clear.
Testing with an oropharyngeal or nasopharygeal swab (the two give comparable results) is most accurate when one is symptomatic with COVID-19. In general, symptoms develop five to six days after exposure, but it can take two to 14 days. COVID-19 has a well documented asymptomatic or presymptomatic phase as well. According to the World Health Organization, presymptomatic people can test positive one to three days before symptoms start.
A fantastic study published in Nature in early April by Wolfel and colleagues from Munich, Germany suggested that 5 days may be an optimal time to test. They enrolled patients who acquired COVID-19 after known close contact to an index case. All swabs from all patients taken by day 5 tested positive.
I completely agree with Governor Cuomo that if you have been to a protest march, then you should get a COVID-19 test. Clearly, if you develop symptoms of a cough, fever, loss of taste or smell then testing should occur as soon as you can obtain one. For those who remain asymptomatic, waiting for at least 5 days after the march would be a reasonable decision.
There are drive through testing sites available widely throughout Los Angeles County (https://dhs.lacounty.gov/covid-19/testing/). We also distribute PCR swab kits through our office here at Santa Monica Primary Care.
𝗦𝗶𝗴𝗻 𝗨𝗽 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗢𝘂𝗿 𝗡𝗲𝘄𝘀𝗹𝗲𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿
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