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It can still be hard to get a coronavirus test — and that’s not the only problem

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta (original source CNN)

“The coronavirus pandemic is nowhere near to being over, yet states are starting to ease restrictions to try to avert economic disaster.

Public health experts say the only safe way to reopen the country for business as usual is to follow the gating criteria set up by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and to test, test, test.

There are two distinct types of coronavirus tests you’ve probably heard about. One is the molecular diagnostic test that can test for the virus itself, commonly called an rt-PCR test. The other is a serologic test — a blood test — that detects antibodies, which are part of your body’s reaction to the virus.

While both tests are key, it’s the virus test, those rt-PCR tests or molecular diagnostic tests, that are part of the gating criteria to reopen the country. They are the tests that determine if someone currently has the virus in their body, if they need to be isolated and whether their contacts needs to be traced and potentially quarantined. Not all contacts of someone who tests positive will need to be followed up on and traced to limit the spread of the virus — rather, it’s influenced by how long the infected person was in contact with the other person, and in what environment. Some of these contacts will also have to be tested for the virus. Figuring all that out is a laborious task, and will potentially require hundreds of thousands of people to serve as contact tracers all over the country.”

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