The Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) is encouraging residents with COVID-19 symptoms to get tested to help prevent further spread and outbreaks, but to also be aware of different types of testing and what they may or may not be able to reveal.

Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and epidemiologist, stated that testing was more widely available now , saying “We want anyone with symptoms that could be COVID-19 to ask about testing,” she said. “Identifying individuals with COVID-19 helps us track this disease. No one should avoid testing out of fear. Knowing what’s going on in Wyoming is good for all of us.”

The two primary types of test which are currently available are viral tests and antibody tests. Dr. Harrist stated that “the short answer on the difference between them is a viral test can show if you have a current infection while an antibody test might show if you had a past infection."

Viral tests typically use samples gathered with swabs from inside the nose. Some viral tests allow quick results at the same location where the sample is collected. With others, samples are sent for analysis to a laboratory such as the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory.

Antibody tests involve blood samples and should not be used to find out whether someone is currently sick with COVID-19, but may reveal an earlier infection.

Dr. Harrist said people should know not all antibody tests are reliable and providers should be cautious when choosing antibody tests to ensure they've been properly evaluated.

“It can take 1-3 weeks after you are infected with a virus for your body to make antibodies. That’s why it is not a good method to see if you are currently ill,” Harris said.

If a reliable antibody blood test is used, a positive result can show a person has antibodies that likely resulted from an earlier COVID-19 infection. Some people might test positive without ever experiencing symptoms.

For more COVID-19 information and recommendations, please follow the link here. 

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