According to the CDC, individuals with high priority for COVID-19 testing are hospitalized patients with symptoms, healthcare workers, workers in congregate living settings, and first responders with symptoms. Residents in long-term care facilities, including prisons and shelters, with signs of COVID-19, will likewise be tested. Other individuals with priority for COVID testing are persons who show symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, new loss of taste or smell, vomiting/diarrhea, and or sore throat. Persons without symptoms who are prioritized by medical personnel for other reasons will also be tested.
Why is this disease being called COVID-19?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the name of this disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for the disease. There are many types of human coronaviruses, including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. COVID-19 is different from the families of viruses that cause the common cold or seasonal influenza for several reasons:
• It is more harmful and contagious than the common cold or seasonal influenza
• Infected individuals may not show symptoms for up to a week
• The mortality rate is at least ten times that of seasonal influenza
• There is not yet a vaccine
What is community spread?
Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected. The virus spreads easily. Being around other people greatly increases your chances of getting the virus. The virus enters our body through our eyes, nose, and mouth from our hands. Anyone can be infected, including children and healthy adults. There is increased risk of spreading to older adults and those with underlying or chronic health conditions like heart disease, lung disease.
What is antibody testing? Who should be tested using this method?
Antibody blood tests show if you had a previous infection with the virus. Depending on when someone was infected and the timing of the test, the test may not find antibodies in someone with a current COVID-19 infection. Antibodies are proteins that help fight off infections. Antibody tests should not be used as the only way to diagnose someone as being currently sick with COVID-19.
For those who test positive, will there be any support offered to them?
The health department will contact all individuals who test positive and help with follow-up.
What are the testing sites and dates?
To prevent mass gatherings for testing, this information is available only to individuals who live in these sites. If you live in senior housing, assisted living, a nursing home, or homeless shelter and would like to be tested, call 414-955-7390. We will speak to you in more detail about how testing can be provided at your site.
Leonard E. Egede, MD, MS
• Professor of Medicine & Eminent Scholar
• Chief, Division of General Internal Medicine;
• Director, Center for Advancing Population Science, Medical College of Wisconsin