Digital Discussion: Who should get tested for coronavirus?


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — When it comes to testing for coronavirus, the Virginia Department of Health is following CDC recommendations and testing only those with symptoms and close contacts of those who test positive.

“It’s typically that 15 minutes within 6 feet is the determination of a ‘close contact,'” Dr. Todd Wagner, director of the Western Tidewater Health District, told

Wagner explains that to test a broad base of people, such as all students in a school or workers in a business, would consume resources for those who really need them and could give a false sense of security.

“It’s one point in time and so that coverage that some person might think they have due to being tested is simply not the case,” he said.

If you are tested, he said, you should quarantine until you get the results. If you’re positive or have symptoms, you should isolate.

BELOW: Watch the full Coronavirus Digital Discussion from Monday, Sept. 14, 2020.

The two words — quarantine and isolate — are often used interchangeably but Wagner says they’re not the same.

“Words matter. When you say somebody is isolated that presumes they’ve had a positive test or they’re symptomatic.”

Those people should avoid others, even in their own homes for the 10-day duration of the illness.

If someone is told to quarantine, it means they’ve been potentially exposed but are not ill. These people should also stay away from others outside the home and may want to wear a mask in their home around other family members.

Wagner said there is the possibility that it could be for up to 24 days that an individual is quarantined.

“And I know that seems long, but that’s sort of — I guess I’d have to describe that as the worst-case scenario,” he said.

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