Studio City, California - At least 3 times a day for the last few weeks I have been asked this question.  Often there is no simple answer and I ask the parent if they would like one done.

Of course, if you are in the hospital, that is a different story and they will likely test you whether you want one or not. But other than that, it can be hard to decide if you should get a test for every sniffle, fever or cough, because after all, most of these symptoms are also caused by other viruses which are in full force right now. 

At the end of the day, it is ultimately going to come down to personal choice most of the time.

Things to think about when deciding include:

How severe are the symptoms?

  • Do the symptoms seem to match with common CV19 symptoms (fever, cough, etc)
  • Will you be in contact with someone who is most vulnerable to CV19 if they get sick?
  • Are you required to be cleared of CV19 before returning to an activity (school, camp, work, etc)
  • Have you had CV19 before?
  • Has anyone you have come in contact with recently tested positive?
  • Are there many cases in your geographic region?
  • Do you/the child have any pre-existing conditions which increase risk?
  • What is the latest data in your area?

I think it is ultimately going to be tougher and tougher over this winter to come to a decision. You can test for just about any symptom. You can have any disease and have no symptoms.  So how often should you really test your child? 

While the tests are generally not so miserable anymore, it is not ideal to be poking around in your toddler’s nose with a swab. They generally do well but certainly don’t find it fun and at times it can be traumatic depending on where you get the test done.  Most kids in our office do well, but if you go somewhere that is not familiar with children, it can be a less than ideal experience. So, with that said, we don’t want to be testing kids just because unless it is truly needed.  

There is no specific answer. It is not reasonable to test every child for every symptom every time. That is not practical, so over time, we will have to see where the recommendations fall. Ultimately, I believe testing will only be completed when there is a high suspicion or concern such as when a patient goes to the emergency department or has a close contact that is positive. It will likely be some time before this is standard though.  In the meantime, you will have to decide for your family and with your doctor, what the best course of action is for you if cold symptoms do arise this winter (and they almost certainly will if they have not already).

Speak to your provider if you have questions about your specific situation.

Stay safe and stay well.

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