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COVID-19/Antibody FAQS

Yes we do offer specimen collection send-out testing service for individuals who need clearance to travel.  Due to fluctuating turn-around-times with many reference labs we recommend coming in for testing far in advance of your travel date to allow time for results to be provided to our clinics prior to your travel date.

This test is designed to detect antibodies in a blood sample that could give an indication that a patient had contracted COVID-19 at some point previously and had produced these antibodies to fight it.

Antibody testing does come with a few minor risks, primarily due to possible discomfort or complications during the sample collection process (blood draw). It is also possible to receive a false positive test or a false negative test, given the complexity of the virus and its close relationship to other coronavirus strands.

As with the minor risks we discussed previously there are also some great benefits to antibody testing. Obtaining these results, in conjunction with other information, can help your healthcare provider make more informed recommendations of care and be able to best determine what forms of treatment you may need. An antibody test will not only help medical professionals make their best recommendations, but may also help patients to know their current status and help limit the possible spread to their family and community.

A positive test result could indicate that COVID-19 IgG antibodies are present in a patient’s blood, which might mean they have contracted the virus at some point and developed a natural antibody response to it. As the test name indicates, SARS-CoV-2 IgG, is focused on detecting IgG antibodies which remain in the blood after an infection has passed and indicate you may have developed antibodies that could protect you from future infection. Our test does not identify possible IgM antibodies, which are usually the initial antibodies produced by the immune system and often indicate more recent or active infection. Upon receiving a positive result, your healthcare provider will be able to work with you and determine the best course of care or treatment based on medical history or any prior symptoms. As mentioned previously, given the complexity of COVID-19 and the close relationship it shares with other strands of coronavirus, there is a chance you can have a false positive result.

A negative test results means that no antibodies were detected in your sample. If you do not have antibodies in your system, it likely indicates that you have not contracted the virus up to that point and it’s best to work with your healthcare provider to determine any next steps that are recommended. Again, it’s important to know that it’s possible to receive a false negative result and this can occur for a variety of reasons. A negative result may occur if you happen to be tested very recently after contracting the virus because your body may not have had time to produce antibodies for the infection, and therefore, they would not show on a possible test.

The FDA has made certain tests available through the Emergency Use Authorization, after having met certain criteria. The EUA for this test is supported by the Secretary of Health and Human Service’s declaration that the current circumstance justifies emergency use to help in the fight against COVID-19.

The answer to whether or not you should wash your mask is of course, yes! Masks should be washed on a regular basis depending on the frequency of use and using a washing machine should suffice as a proper way to clean and sterilize your mask. It is also recommended that you should be careful to refrain from touching your eyes, nose or mouth, when removing the mask from your face and be sure to wash your hands immediately after.

The cloth face coverings the CDC recommends, are not the surgical masks you see at the doctor’s office or N-95 respirators. The CDC recommends using a homemade or cloth face coverings, as the surgical masks or N-95 respirators are critical supplies that we must help preserve for the medical and healthcare workers. Cloth face coverings are simple to make at home and provide the protection we need while we continue to help our healthcare system and workers in the process.

The CDC has recently recommended that all people wear a cloth face mask in public settings to slow the spread of the virus, because even those who do not experience symptoms right away, may be carrying COVID-19 and not know. Facemasks come in a variety of forms, from the ones normally seen worn by medical professionals, to the ones you can make at home, so it’s easy to see why you may have some questions as to if you are doing it right. The CDC has made some recommendations on how to wear your mask and who shouldn’t be wearing them, so we have listed them below.

How to wear a cloth face covering:

  • It should fit snugly but also be comfortable around the side of the face
  • It should be secured with ties or ear loops
  • It’s important that it includes multiple layers of fabric
  • It should allow you to breathe easily and without any restriction
  • It should also be able to be washed and machined dried without any damage or change to shape or size

Who shouldn’t wear a mask?

It’s noted that cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under the age of 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

In this unprecedented time, it’s crucial that we feel safe and prepared to protect and help our families. In addition to following the guidelines under, “How to protect yourself”, the CDC has listed a few ideas to help you feel more prepared to handle the virus and ensure your family’s safety.

  • Create a plan of action to protect you and your family’s health and talk it over with the people who need to be included, so everyone is on the same page.
  • Put a plan in place to help care for those who are at greater risk for serious complications, in particular, older adults and those with medical conditions related to their heart, lungs or kidneys.
  • Get to know your neighbors and find out if there is any community website or social media platform that can help all he local residents stay in touch.
  • Create a list of emergency contacts that include family, healthcare providers, neighbors and other community resources.

The CDC reports that based on evidence so far, children do not appear to have any heightened risk for COVID-19 than adults have. Now while some children and infants may have contracted the virus, adults currently make up the majority of cases we have seen. There are other groups of people and those with underlying health conditions that may be at higher risk and that is described in greater detail under “Who is at risk?”.

So far the symptoms of COVID-19 in children are similar to those we have seen in adults. It has also been noted that children who are confirmed to have had the virus, tend to show mild symptoms that consist of a fever, runny nose and cough; vomiting and diarrhea have also been reported. It is also unknown at this time whether some children with underlying health conditions are at a greater risk for severe illness, but there is still much information to be gathered about the impact COVID-19 has on children.

The possibility of warm weather playing a significant role in reducing the rate of transmission of COVID-19 is a topic that has gained a lot of traction. However, at this point the CDC reports it is not yet known what affect the weather and temperature will have on COVID-19. It is not unusual for other viruses that cause the common cold and flu, to spread more in the cold weather months than they do in the warm weather months. This does not however, mean it’s impossible to become sick during the warm weather months, so with new information still being gathered on the topic, no definite determination has been made on the potential role a change in weather may have.

COVID-19 is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified and it is not the same coronavirus that we commonly see circulating and causing mild illness, such as the common cold. The Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a fairly new respiratory illness that was first reported in Wuhan, China, on December 31, 2019. The unfamiliar nature of COVID-19 has lent itself to a variety of unknowns and with new information coming available on a daily basis, the situation is rapidly evolving.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness in people but there are other coronaviruses that only infect animals. In rare circumstances, animal coronaviruses have emerged and began to infect people and this is what is suspected to have happened in the case of COVID-19. As a source of reference, both the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are examples of coronaviruses that have previously originated in animals and spread to people.

As far as how it spreads, the CDC reports it is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person and between people who are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet). COVID-19 can also be spread through respiratory droplets produced when someone coughs or sneezes and these droplets can land in the noses, mouths or be inhaled into the lungs of those nearby.

Risk for COVID-19 is a subject that has the ability to sway one way or another on an almost everyday basis. It has been noted that people living in places where community spread is occurring are at a higher risk, along with healthcare workers caring for those who are sick. In addition, based on evidence that has been gathered at this point, the CDC has broken down where and whom it deems to be at risk of exposure, while also emphasizing the risk of severe illness in patients that have certain underlying health problems or are at a certain age. The CDC breakdown is below:

Risk of Exposure:

  • Cases of COVID-19 have been reported in all 50 states
  • People living in places where on-going community spread of the virus has been reported, are at an elevated risk of exposure, with the level of risk being dependent on location.
  • Healthcare workers or those in close contact with COVID-19 patients are also at an elevated risk of exposure.
  • Travelers returning from affected US and international locations were community spread is occurring are at an elevated risk of exposure.

Risk of Severe Illness:

With the level of knowledge we currently have on COVID-19, there are certain sections of our population that are more prone to having severe complications. The CDC reports that older adults over the age of 65 and those who live in a nursing home or long-term health facility are at increased risk. As previously mentioned, individuals with underlying medical conditions are also at a heightened risk, in particular if the conditions are not well controlled. Here is a list of those conditions:

  • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • People who have serious heart conditions
  • People who are immunocompromised:
  • Conditions that can lead to those being immunocompromised include, smoking, cancer treatment, bone marrow or organ transplantation and poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, among others.
  • People who are severely obese or those who have a BMI of 40 or higher
  • People with diabetes
  • People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
  • People with liver disease

The Coronavirus has presented a unique set of challenges in the way it is spreading and how it has impacted many different parts of the world. Given what we know, there are some everyday precautions that can be taken to help you protect yourself and your family. The CDC lists the following ways to help protect yourself and others:

  • Clean your hands often
  • Avoid close contact
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Wear a facemask
  • Clean and disinfect

As mentioned under the “Who is at risk?” question, there are certain age groups and medical conditions that may make you higher risk for suffering from a severe illness and the CDC has recommended they take additional precautions. It is advised that you stock up on essential items, keep a little extra space between yourself and others while in public and avoid crowds as much as possible.

Since the announcement of COVID-19 there has been an increase in the number of citizens seeking face masks and wearing them in public and at home. The CDC now recommends that all people should be wearing a cloth facemask when they go out in public to help reduce the risk of spreading it. Part of this recommendation falls on the complexity of COVID-19, because even those who do not feel sick or are not expressing symptoms, may still have the virus and be able to spread it. The CDC lists the following points for using a cloth mask or face cover:

  • You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
  • Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example when they go to the grocery store. It is also noted that cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under the age of 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  • The cloth face mask is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
  • Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face mask in not a substitute for social distancing.

The Coronavirus is an infectious respiratory illness that has shown to provide different levels of severity and symptoms on a person to person basis. The symptoms associated with the virus are known to appear within 2-14 days after exposure and the symptoms have ranged from mild to severe illness and even death in some cases. The following symptoms have been commonly associated with COVID-19:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

The CDC has also developed some emergency warning signs for COVID-19 and if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breathe
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

With COVID-19 and the Flu having shown to produce similar symptoms, the two have been linked together from the beginning. Both COVID-19 and the Flu are infectious respiratory illnesses and share some of the same characteristics so it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two. Some of the similarities they share are in the symptoms, as they are both known to cause fever, cough, body aches and fatigue. Both illnesses can also result in pneumonia and are not able to be treated by antibiotics since they are viruses and antibiotics only work on bacterial infections. It is key to note as well, that COVID-19 is caused by one virus, the novel 2019 coronavirus, while the flu is caused by a variety of different types and strains of influenza.

Please visit our nearest clinic (CLICK HERE FOR LOCATIONS) to be seen. We recommend you call in advance or notify staff immediately upon arrival of your symptoms and request a procedure mask, if you don’t have your own mask.  Masks are required at all clinics. Once you’ve made contact with clinic staff, they will provide you further instruction for care.  At the provider’s discretion, you may be screened for Influenza A, B, and Strep as well as having COVID-19 testing or specimen collection.  Depending on the type of testing materials available, a Rapid Test may be conducted and you will have results in as little as 15 minutes or a test sample will be have to be collected and sent out to a commercial lab for testing and analysis.

COVID-19 Testing/Rapid Testing: Our clinics primarily serve as collection sites which means if a patient meets the provider-determined criteria to order a test for COVID-19, a sample collection may be conducted at our clinics and be sent offsite for testing at an official lab where the final results will be determined. However, we do offer Rapid Testing at clinics where resources are available that provide patients results in as little as 15 minutes and allows our providers to make the most appropriate and efficient treatment recommendations and infection control decisions. Due to limited supplies, at this time we are reserving these tests for patients who have met provider-determined criteria based on CDC priority.

COVID-19 Testing/Rapid Testing: First and foremost during a clinic visit, one of NextCare’s providers must determine a patient exhibits the appropriate symptoms or meets provider-determined criteria based on CDC priority to administer a collection service or Rapid Test. Secondly, the clinic must have the resources in place to perform the collection or Rapid Test.

COVID-19 Testing/Rapid Testing: Many insurances are covering the patient cost share portion of COVID-19 related visits.  We will bill your insurance for any services rendered at our clinic.  If your insurance processes with any patient responsibility, we will send a bill for that portion only.  Any charges from the outside lab vendors will be billed through that outside lab and patient responsibility will be determined through them.

When it comes to our animals, they are considered important members of our families, so this is what we know so far. The CDC reports that we have seen cats, dogs and other mammals be infected with SARS-CoV-2, but we don’t know the full array of animals that can be infected. A small number of pets have been reported to have been infected in several countries, including the United States. It seems that in most cases, pets have become sick after being in contact with people who have the virus. Again, we are still in the early stages and gathering new information, so it is recommended that you wash your hands after handling or being around your pets to minimize any risk.

If you do become sick from COVID-19, it is best to restrict contact with any of your pets for the duration of the illness, similar to how you would limit contact with people. Although we still have minimal knowledge on how big of a threat COVID is to our animals, it is best to take extra precautions while new information is coming out and more studies are done.

If you are sick and must care for your animals, please wash your hands as often as possible, before and after your interactions and if you have access to a facemask, it is recommended that you wear it during the course of your interaction.