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Health experts say you shouldn't get tested for COVID-19 if you have no symptoms

Posted at 10:03 PM, Jul 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-14 08:32:55-04

MAGIC VALLEY — In some cases, if you are exposed to COVID-19, symptoms can take up to 14 days to appear, and in some cases, they may not appear at all. Doctors say this could lead people to spread the virus without even knowing they have it. But even if you believe you have been exposed to the virus but are not showing any symptoms, some health officials say you should not get tested if you aren't showing any symptoms, and the main reason is because you can get a false negative.

"We don't want people to feel like they are not sick and potentially be infecting people because they either had a false-positive or picked up the virus right after that test," Brianna Bodily, Public information officer for South Central Public Health District, said.

One St. Luke's doctor says if you get tested while showing no symptoms, you could potentially be wasting a test.

"The reality is that we don't have an unlimited amount of testing and if you've been exposed to the virus we really don't know when to test you to find out if you truly don't have the virus," Joshua Kern, Vice President of medical affairs for St. Luke's hospital, said.

If you get a false negative result, it is possible to start showing symptoms not too long after that, which means you would have to go back and get tested again.

"So if you got swabbed and it came back positive then you know, I potentially have the virus and could be spreading to people, but if you're negative, we don't know then if you truly aren't going to develop symptoms and have the virus the following day," Kern said.

But just because you shouldn't get tested does not mean you should not be taking the proper precautions to stop the spread of the virus.

"If you have COVID-19 and you don't even know it, but you're keeping six feet away from other people, you're washing your hand frequently, and you're wearing a mask whenever you do go out into a public area; if you follow those steps then COVID-19 will not spread the way it is spreading right now," Bodily said.