COVID-19 crisis: Getting the right COVID test

Local News

LA CROSSE/EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an emphasis on the importance of testing.  First News at Nine’s Jonathan Fortier explains the different types of tests available as well as why some people wait longer than others for results.

“It is really important to remember that testing is a really important strategy to slow the spread,” said Audrey Boerner with the Eau Claire City-County Health Department

Chances are, if you have gotten a covid-19 test, the time it took to get results felt like forever.

“It can be anywhere from 36 hours up to 5 days depending on the test,” said Dr. Ken Johnson, Prevea Health Chief Medical Officer.

It’s based on which test you got.

“You can either get a PCR test or you can go to the antigen testing site if you don’t have symptoms,” said Boerner.

Boerner says the more accurate PCR test takes longer to process.

Boerner said, “Most of the tests being done in the county are those PCR tests. Those are the gold standard for tests that we’ve been doing all along.”

PCR tests are recommended for people who have symptoms or have had an exposure to the virus.

Antigen testing is a quicker option with results usually available in under 40 minutes.

Prevea Health Chief Medical Officer Ken Johnson says the HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital only offers PCR tests, and their labs are done out of state which takes a little longer.

Johnson said, “We do the samples and then send it to the lab, once it gets to the lab, it’s a 48 to 72-hour turnaround.”

Mayo Clinic in Eau Claire processes their labs locally, which allows them to get results faster. Boerner says if you think you have been exposed and are not showing symptoms, to self-isolate for a few days before getting tested.

“We suggest waiting 5 to 8 days after that exposure to get that test, it is possible to get tested too early,” said Boerner.

Of course, there are those recommended actions to avoid getting tested all together.

In Eau Claire, Jonathan Fortier, First News at Nine.

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