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Rates of COVID-19 in our communities are higher than ever. Experts at the Vermont Department of Health have related the increase to gatherings over the holidays.

Many people are asymptomatic. Asymptomatic people have no symptoms, despite being COVID-19 positive. They can easily spread the virus without knowing it. It can happen in as little as 15 minutes, even while wearing a mask and taking other precautions. The people who catch the virus may develop more severe symptoms.

While we can’t reverse the number of people carrying COVID-19 right now, we can provide testing that will help them prevent further spread by testing everyone who could have been exposed. If those who get tested quarantine until they get their results and as directed afterwards, we can help decrease cases and save lives. In fact, the state has recommended that everyone who has gathered with those outside their household should be tested.

Here is the latest about testing options available in our area:

There are open slots available both at SVMC’s drive-up testing site and the CIC testing site at the Bennington Rescue Squad. Visit https://svhealthcare.org/COVID-19/Testing for details. In fact, that is true statewide.

Within a 30-minute drive of home, almost everyone can get a test every day of the week.

Note that advanced registration is required for most tests. Visit https://svhealthcare.org/COVID-19/testing for details.

The expense of testing has been largely removed. Testing at many sites is free. At other sites, it is covered by insurance. Almost no one should have to pay out-of-pocket for a COVID-19 test.

Testing is more comfortable now. Nasopharyngeal tests take a sample from deep inside the nose and throat. Some people call it “the brain tickler.” It burns a little and makes your eyes water. The anterior nares test is becoming more common. It takes the sample from just inside your nostril and is way easier for patients to take.

Results have gotten faster, too. They are usually available in 24 — 36 hours.

If you’re unsure about whether or not to get a test, get one.

When someone knows they are positive, they do a much better job of staying away from others than when they don’t. They are far less likely to spread COVID to others. And that’s the goal: to decrease cases in our communities.

Marie George, MD, is an infectious disease specialist at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington.


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