Three different COVID-19 tests determine if you had or have the virus

Coronavirus

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – North Carolina has gone through more than 5.7 million coronavirus tests since the start of the pandemic.

In March, only people who showed symptoms were able to be tested. Now, workers in Jacksonville and across the state are using three different COVID-19 tests.

The first one is an antigen or rapid test, providing results in 15 to 20 minutes. The Onslow County Public Health Department saves those for people already showing symptoms.

“Because that is lower sensitivity in detecting the virus. Sometimes it does miss and doesn’t detect that active virus. So we will confirm with a PCR,” said Victoria Reyes of the Onslow County Public Health Department.

More than 388,000 people were aware of their positive results through a molecular or PCR test. It’s more accurate than the antigen, and the results come in as soon as three days. Both exams can be administered through a nasal or throat swab. There’s also an antibody test, checking blood to determine if someone already had the virus.

Whichever test you take, health officials say it’s important to follow CDC guidelines to get a more accurate result.

“If you aren’t actively quarantining in between that time, those results may not be accurate,” said Reyes.

The test you get depends on where you go. The county’s health department administers COVID tests only to people involved in contact tracing. They do not offer antibody testing.

“We do our best to manage close contact and to actively seek them out and encourage them to come get tested so we make that readily available for them,” Reyes said.

According to Quest Diagnostics website and Lab Corp, they both offer antibody testing, but each have their own guidelines.

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