What once was a super vote center is now a public testing site. Starting Monday, Nov. 23, people can get tested for COVID-19 at Nationals Park. Testing will be done inside the garage, at 16 N Street SE, Monday through Friday between 2:30 and 7:30 p.m.
The new site is part of the District’s efforts to ramp up testing amid increased demand. The public testing sites are averaging between 3,500 and 4,200 tests a day, per Christopher Geldart, the director of public works. Geldart, who oversees testing, expects the numbers to increase. Right now, the D.C. government has enough supplies to meet demand, but Geldart cannot guarantee that’ll be the case forever. The government contracts with a private testing lab that partners with states all across the country, and that company, LabCorp, has cut its supply of test kits before.
Test sites at firehouses will expand hours during the week to match Nats Park’s schedule. The sites on Judiciary Square, UDC-CC’s Bertie Backus campus, and Anacostia will open for an extra 30 minutes, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. These sites will also be weatherproofed with larger tents.
Despite long lines at some of these testing sites, Geldart says the average turnaround time for results is three to five days, closer to three nowadays. But expect an increase as we near the holidays, he says.
Expect to be asked about health insurance when you visit testing sites. Testing will continue to be free, but Mayor Muriel Bowser says she wants to ensure these sites are sustainable, so insurance companies should pay when they can. People can provide their insurance information on site or beforehand when they pre-register HERE. No one will be turned away if they do not have an insurance card.
“In the District of Columbia, individuals are not to be charged a copay for COVID-related services. That includes testing, treatment, and hospitalization,” says DC Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt.
Geldart says people have been citing all sorts of reasons for coming to get tested in recent days, including holiday travel. A Post reporter spoke with people getting tested at Judiciary Square on Tuesday, a majority of whom he said wanted to get tested before seeing family next week.
The thing is, testing can give someone a false sense of security. A negative result only shows that, at the moment of testing, the viral levels are not high enough to be reliably measured. Meaning a negative test result does not necessarily mean the virus isn’t there. If you get tested one or two days after a possible exposure—say, eating dinner at a restaurant with a few friends and someone is asymptomatic—public health experts say you are more likely to produce a negative result even if you are infected.
“Viewing a negative test as a license to socialize freely ignores two important facts about the virus,” according to a Thanksgiving guide from MIT Medical. “The first is that people who have been exposed and infected typically do not test positive or show symptoms until at least five days have passed. The second is that infected individuals are at their most contagious in the two to three days before they are likely to test positive or exhibit symptoms.”
You would have to strictly isolate for 14 days and then get tested to determine if you are coronavirus-free. And we are just a week out from Thanksgiving. The Centers for Disease Control and Protection says the safest way to celebrate is with your immediate household. Live alone? Zoom is lifting its 40-minute time limit for free meetings on Thanksgiving. Some more public health advice to mitigate risk if you are gathering: Keep it small and eat outside. Read more HERE.
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