We are now at slightly over 65% of all eligible residents in Skagit County having received at least one vaccine dose. It is exciting to think of how far we’ve come in our vaccination journey since December of 2020. Even still, we have a long way to go before COVID-19 is no longer of concern. With the rapid spread of the Delta variant throughout Washington State and rising case counts and hospitalization rates this past month, we know that we are not yet in the clear.
In the latter half of July, Skagit County Public Health was seeing daily new case counts repeatedly in the tens and twenties; a high not seen since our last wave in April of 2021.This increase is likely due to multiple factors, including increased spread of the more contagious Delta variant, increased social gatherings and summer-time travel, and businesses reopening—all happening with fewer people wearing masks.
While the conversation has been primarily focused on vaccination of late, it is important to remember that getting tested for COVID-19 is a tool that we can, and should, use if/when exposed to COVID-19 or when traveling. So, let’s revisit the matter of testing…
Testing is essential.
Anyone with signs or symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested as early as possible regardless of vaccination status. With allergy season waning and flu season ramping up, it is no doubt that you’ll feel a tickle or two, or develop a cough at some point this fall. When you know you’ve been exposed; when you feel a little under the weather: Take precaution. GET TESTED!
Not sure if your sniffles warrant a COVID test or not? Use the Coronavirus Self-Checker here.
If you have been exposed to COVID-19.
Whether you have been vaccinated or not, if you’ve been around someone who has a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, you should get tested 3-5 days after your exposure, even if you don’t have symptoms.
You should continue to monitor for symptoms for 14 days following an exposure, and if you develop symptoms, isolate immediately and consider re-testing. If your test is positive, you should isolate for 10 days.
For unvaccinated folks, it is important to note that quarantine guidelines have not changed. If you are unvaccinated and are exposed, along with getting tested, you will need to quarantine for 14 days—even if you do not have symptoms.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms below, get tested for COVID-19 at a testing location. For a full list of locations, go to: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/COVID19/TestingforCOVID19/TestingLocations.
Symptoms may include:
- Fever or chills
- Muscle or body aches
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
Note: If you are in quarantine or isolation and you find yourself in need of assistance with getting supplies or food, call Skagit County Public Health at (360) 416-1500 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Testing and Travel
Some restrictions around travel have lifted recently, but it is important to remember that precautions must still be taken. After all, travel increases the chance of contracting and spreading COVID-19. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) continues to recommend that folks limit travel if unvaccinated, and that all people, regardless of vaccination status, use extra precaution if they do travel.
Here are some important things to keep in mind when making travel plans within the United States:
- Refrain from travel if not fully vaccinated. The CDC recommends that those who are not fully vaccinated delay their travel. If you must travel, follow safer travel options including a viral test 1-3 days before your trip. If you are traveling with children who cannot get vaccinated at this time, follow recommendations for unvaccinated people and choose safer travel options.
- Testing before travel. People who are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine can travel safely within the United States. Unvaccinated individuals must plan to get tested with a viral test 1-3 days before their trip.
- Check travel guidance before you go. While most states no longer require a test, travel restrictions vary by state based on vaccination status and are subject to change at any time. Check state and local guidance before you make concrete plans.
- Wear a mask during travel. Masks are required indoors in travel hubs and on public transportation regardless of vaccination status. Follow all state and local recommendations and requirements for mask wearing and social distancing.
- After-travel requirements for fully vaccinated. It is not required to get tested before or after you travel if you are fully vaccinated, but you should still follow all other travel recommendations, self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, and get tested if you develop symptoms. During travel, if you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you should get tested 3-5 days after your exposure, even if you don’t have symptoms, and wear a mask in indoor public settings until your test result is negative.
- After-travel requirement for unvaccinated. Those who are unvaccinated must get a viral test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel. They should also isolate and monitor for symptoms for a full 14 days and seek repeat testing if symptoms develop. See CDC guidance for unvaccinated travelers.
For international travel:
Those who are traveling internationally should check requirements of their destination country as they may require a test prior to arrival even for vaccinated people. See CDC guidance and testing requirements for international travel.
Where to get tested.
Many doctor’s offices are offering COVID-19 testing to their patients. Contact your healthcare provider first to see if they offer COVID-19 testing. If you are experiencing severe symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest tightness, consider going to an emergency department nearby.
For a list of testing locations in your area, go to: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/COVID19/TestingforCOVID19/TestingLocations.
At-home tests are also now available for purchase. Check out the following links for at-home testing options:
- Everlywell COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit
- Pixel by Labcorps At-Home Test
- BinaxNOW™ Antigen Self Test
What to bring with you when getting tested.
- A photo ID with your date of birth. Testing is available regardless of your citizenship/immigration status.
- Your insurance card if you have insurance. If you have private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid you must provide this information and the lab will bill them. You will not be charged for the test. You do not need to have insurance or a doctor’s note to schedule a test.
- A well-fitted mask. As healthcare facilities, masks are required at all indoor and outdoor testing locations regardless of vaccination status.
How and when to get results.
- Most results typically come by email, text, or through the provider’s chosen online portal. Check with your testing provider about how results will be sent.
- Results are usually available within 48 hours, though it may take up to 72 hours.
If you test positive.
If you test positive, expect a call from Public Health. Our staff is still actively following up on all confirmed cases and will need to ask you some questions. If you receive the call, it is imperative that you pick up and help us with our contract tracing. Thank you!