Our doctors, nurses, and staff entered the medical field to help people, both those in our community and any others who reach our clinic doors. As our communities navigate COVID-19, we continue to be ready to treat our patients and to provide accurate and up-to-date information about this virus. New information guides our practice as we work to serve you and your family at each of our Integrity Urgent Care Clinics.
How have CDC guidelines on COVID-19 changed in the last few months?
The CDC continues to evaluate different aspects of mitigation like directional flow in large buildings, occupancies and airflow, and how long isolation really needs to take place. Several good CDC guidelines have become more well-known amongst more of the population. Extra hand washing, more care and concern about staying home when ill, and reducing touch points will keep our population healthier when any virus or germs are spreading amongst the population.
What changes have you seen in how COVID-19 presents itself?
COVID-19 can look drastically different in every individual. Currently, if we weren’t aware of COVID-19, we would think many of these patients had sinus infections because most symptoms look and act like this common illness. This knowledge helps us better treat patients who come in with COVID-19 symptoms.
Who should get a COVID-19 test?
We are firm in our belief that the results of a COVID test should guide both treatment and behavior. While there is no approved outpatient treatment for COVID-19, people can make better decisions about their behavior with the test results. If someone knows that they have been exposed and will stay at home no matter the outcome of the test, our staff will further evaluate whether testing is needed. If someone has been exposed and will use the results of the test to determine when to get back to school, work, or near their small circle of loved ones, then a test would be advisable.
This changes a bit as we head into flu season. There is some overlap between symptoms of the flu and COVID-19. If a patient presents with a fever and a cough, they should be tested for both to determine how long to stay home, as our recommendation for COVID isolation is 10 days.
How long after exposure should someone get a COVID test?
If you have been exposed to someone with COVID, you should quarantine yourself for 14 days to avoid spreading the virus to others and plan on getting tested at least once or twice throughout the 14-day quarantine. Since symptoms can develop 2 to 14 days after exposure, you may still test negative a day or two after exposure. The CDC recommends that you wait a few days after exposure to get tested and remain quarantined for the full two weeks even if the test comes back negative because symptoms may still begin to occur after the test has been performed. You should get tested again towards the end of quarantine before coming in contact with other individuals.
I’m hearing two different terms – quarantine and isolation. What’s the difference?
The CDC uses both of these terms to describe different things. If you test positive for COVID, you are supposed to isolate for 10 days. If you are in direct contact with someone who has COVID, you are in quarantine. Quarantine dictates that you stay away from others for 14 days.
It’s a little confusing, but the thought process is that it can take up to two weeks to show symptoms after a COVID exposure. A 14-day quarantine gives a person long enough to begin potentially showing symptoms. The goal of a ten-day isolation is for a person who tested positive to no longer be contagious.
What kind of COVID-19 tests does Integrity Urgent Care offer?
We offer three different tests- the PCR molecular test, LAMP molecular test, and the antibody test. Both molecular tests are nasal or pharyngeal swabs that split the COVID-19 DNA if present and amplify it to a detection level.
How are the tests different?
The way each molecular test breaks up the DNA is different. The LAMP test uses enzymes while the PCR uses a heating and cooling method to break up the DNA. Heating and cooling take more time, 36 hours, versus the LAMP test, which we can do in the clinic on the same day, usually within the hour.
What about the antibody test?
The antibody test is a blood test that generally takes 1-3 weeks to produce results. This test will determine whether you have already had COVID-19 without knowing it and recovered with no noticeable issues. While some are hoping these antibodies will prevent them from having COVID-19 again, we are beginning to see repeat patients testing positive for the second time. Research is still determining what this means for the future.
What about rapid tests? How are the rapid tests Integrity Urgent Care offers different from other rapid tests?
As consumer demand grows, more tests are hitting the market and many of these are not very accurate. Some of these tests are antigen tests rather than molecular tests. These tests result in a large number of false negatives. While a positive result will always be accurate, a patient with a negative antigen test could potentially have COVID-19 and be spreading the virus thinking they are healthy. To make matters more challenging, these tests are not any less expensive. It is better to be tested at a reputable clinic with molecular capabilities and a medical staff ready to help evaluate the next steps after receiving test results.
What is the cost of a COVID test?
In most cases, PCR and antibody COVID testing (and any necessary appointments and procedures) is completely covered by insurance. This means that insurance covers 100% of the cost of your visit and test, regardless of usual copays or deductible.
However, some insurance companies will not pay for us to do the LAMP test in-house because they will only pay for outside lab testing. Some of our patients would prefer to have their results as quickly as possible and therefore may choose to pay out of pocket for a LAMP test to obtain quicker results. You can call us ahead of time to find out which test your insurance will cover this test if that helps you make your decision.
If you don’t have medical insurance, the government offers free medical coverage for COVID related illnesses, including COVID testing. We can sign patients up at the clinic if they are interested in this service.
The cash pay rate is $99 for the antibody test and $130 for the PCR and LAMP nasal swabs (not including the cost of an exam or any necessary procedures).
Our clinics and team remain committed to treating patients of all types. There are still broken bones to be mended, upper respiratory and ear infections that need antibiotics, and runny noses that need observation. We keep patients with COVID related illnesses separate from other patients and have increased the frequency of our cleaning schedules to ensure a clean and safe environment for our patients.
We remain steadfast in providing that care for the communities we serve. We are honored to be trusted with such an important and vital task. Each of our area clinics is open from 8 am to 8 pm, every day of the week.