This Is Exactly When You Need a COVID Test, Doctor Says

If you fall in any of these groups, it's time to get tested for coronavirus.

Health officials have continually emphasized the importance of widespread testing for COVID-19. But with all of the commotion surrounding testing, you may be wondering when you should seek out one yourself. And while up to now there may have been some mixed messaging on the matter, Ashish Jha, MD, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI), is setting the record straight about when you need to get a COVID test.

"Anybody with even the mildest of symptoms needs to get tested because we need to find out if you're infected and if you've been transmitting," Jha recently told NPR. So, at the first sign of potential COVID symptoms, you should get yourself to a testing site. For those not displaying symptoms, Jha says, getting tested really depends on who you are, the status of your general health, and whether or not you spend time in a high-risk environment.

Female doctor in protective suit taking nasal swab test from a senior man

"We need to be testing people in nursing homes, schools, and hospitals—health care workers," he says, pointing out that Nobel laureate Paul Romer believes America should be testing 30 million people daily in order to get the pandemic under control.

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Jha says testing is essential to understanding how severely the coronavirus is circulating throughout the population, which is what makes the recent decline in testing so concerning. "If you can't test people, you don't really know how much disease there is [or] how much disease you're missing," he says. "And right now, I'm getting worried that we're missing a lot of cases in Texas and Florida and other states." To reach the level of testing Jha is talking about, you should get tested if you have any symptoms known to be caused by COVID, have been around someone who has tested positive, or live in a high-risk area. For more information on coronavirus testing, check out This One Thing Could "Completely Change the Course" of COVID, Doctor Says.

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