Confused about COVID-19 testing? A new guide breaks down the type of test you should be getting

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CEDAR PARK, Texas (KXAN) — Cedar Park Pediatric and Family Medicine is among a growing group of practices now offering COVID-19 testing. 

“We are performing drive-up COVID-19 nasal swab testing at our Cypress Creek location,” said Linda Penitusi with Austin Health Partners. “Antibody tests will be performed at another location.”

The tests will require an initial telemedicine appointment and are available to new and existing patients.

The Texas Medical Association, which represents physicians across the state, released a guide for physicians that recommends patients get COVID-19 tests only through their doctors. 

TMA said with many Texans starting to go out after weeks of social distancing, the need to get tested for the virus will only grow and if doctors get more information, the state’s COVID-19 testing capacity will improve. 

“Primary care physicians are on the front lines, and they have patients coming in with symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19. Hopefully, the How-To Testing Guide for Outpatient Clinics will simplify the process,” said Dr. David Lakey, a member of the TMA COVID-19 task force. “They will know what different types of tests can be helpful, where they are not, and what tests they can rely upon.”

TMA’s guide explained that the two most common COVID-19 tests, which patients will hear about from their doctor include the nasal swab testing, and the antibody or antigen test, which uses a blood sample and can tell patients if they were exposed to the virus. 

“If you don’t get the right test in the right situation, it can actually not only cause confusion. I think it can actually harm individuals,” said Lakey. “Some of the blood tests, if you’re too early in the course of your illness, it’ll come back negative because it takes your body, you know, two weeks or so to develop that antibody … on the other hand, if you’ve waited too long and you’re two weeks out and you want to get a nasal swab, the virus is no longer going to be in your body.”

The guide says that the antibody testing can be uncertain, and that’s why it’s important to know that your doctor may follow-up with a nasal swab. 

“We don’t know yet that a [positive] antibody test means the person is protected from the virus in the future,” Dr. Lakey said. “That’s information that’s going to have to be sorted through over the next year.”

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