COVID-19 Testing Remains Limited To Vulnerable Groups; Asymptomatic Carriers Not Major Concern

Mar 25, 2020

Credit DeKalb County Health Department

Testing for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, remains focused on those most at risk for the disease.

Lisa Gonzalez is the public health administrator for the DeKalb County Health Department. She said, right now, testing requests go through a health care provider, and are still focused on a limited subgroup. 

“We’re really looking at testing only those who are severely ill or who fit in the other criteria like living in a congregate setting, having a chronic health condition, or a weakened immune system,” she said.

Gonzalez said it’s important for residents to call their health care provider before coming in. In the case of mild symptoms, the doctor may simply recommend that the caller stay home and practice self-care.

Health officials have also said asymptomatic carriers are not considered to be a primary concern in the spread of COVID-19.

An asymptomatic carrier is somebody carrying the bacteria or virus that causes a disease, but doesn’t suffer from any symptoms.  The expression “Typhoid Mary” comes from such a carrier who transmitted her disease while preparing food for others.  Gonzalez said the CDC has investigated this possibility with COVID-19. 

“From what we know, people are thought to be most contagious when they are symptomatic, when they are the sickest,” she said. 

She said some spread might be possible before people show signs or symptoms, and she noted there have been reports of this occurring with COVID-19, but Gonzalez emphasized this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.