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(111,499 posts)
Tue May 12, 2020, 12:24 PM May 2020

Is "testing" only good for those that are positive with the virus?

After all, someone that might test negative today could test positive tomorrow.

With that reality, the only test that could be verifiable would be those on people with the symptoms.

How would they catch those with no symptoms but are asymptomatic?

How should the tests be prioritized?

9 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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Is "testing" only good for those that are positive with the virus? (Original Post) kentuck May 2020 OP
Current testing is about 85% accurate IggleDuer May 2020 #1
That's actually scarily inaccurate. PoindexterOglethorpe May 2020 #7
That is why they've been primarily testing only people with symptoms frazzled May 2020 #2
Also, most people that do not have any symptoms... kentuck May 2020 #3
My Understanding Is We Test To Find Those That Are Positive So We Can.... global1 May 2020 #4
Here's the nightmare scenario... Moostache May 2020 #5
Have to disagree with you on this one matt819 May 2020 #6
Ideally, everyone would be tested. kentuck May 2020 #9
I saw something about.. stillcool May 2020 #8


(965 posts)
1. Current testing is about 85% accurate
Tue May 12, 2020, 12:30 PM
May 2020

So if a WH staffer gets a daily test, there’s a good chance that one in 10 (2 weeks) would be a false positive.


(26,024 posts)
7. That's actually scarily inaccurate.
Tue May 12, 2020, 12:57 PM
May 2020

And is it 85% accurate in both directions, meaning 15% false positives and 15% false negatives? Again, that's a lot of wrong answers.


(18,402 posts)
2. That is why they've been primarily testing only people with symptoms
Tue May 12, 2020, 12:31 PM
May 2020

I learned this as a fact last week. We recently had to have my 94-year-old mother transported to the hospital because she was exhibiting symptoms of a stroke (slurred speech and sagging face, loss of movement in left leg and arm). But since we had read that stroke symptoms were often present in elderly COVID-19 patients, we asked the attending physician on her case whether she had been tested for COVID: no, they replied, she is not exhibiting symptoms (fever, trouble breathing, etc.). We asked again a day later to the next attending physician: same answer.

She's been home now (with her caregivers) for a little over a week, with PT and OT coming to the house. So far, she seems much better, and can even walk with a walker short distances. No sign of COVID (yet). So I hope they were right.

It does seem there is little sense in getting tested (unless, like the top WH officials you can get tested daily) unless you are exhibiting symptoms. The number of tests is limited, so they can't be used indiscriminately.


(25,518 posts)
4. My Understanding Is We Test To Find Those That Are Positive So We Can....
Tue May 12, 2020, 12:35 PM
May 2020

quarantine them so they don't spread the virus beyond themselves. Treat them is some way to minimize their suffering and nurse them back to health. Do contact tracing so we can also isolate those they came into contact with so they don't go out and infect others. Essentially - prevent the spread.

As was explained to me - we the people are the food for this virus. If we cut off the food of the virus (by isolating people with the virus and maintaining the stay-at-home orders - that we can starve the virus of it's food) and eventually beat it. Make it die off.

That's why it's so important to continue the stay-at-home orders and not re-open early. All that re-opening accomplishes is that we provide the virus with more food (us humans) and the virus will flourish again.


(9,942 posts)
5. Here's the nightmare scenario...
Tue May 12, 2020, 12:42 PM
May 2020

Day 1 - 10 employees, 10 tests, all negative...
Day 2 - 10 employees, 10 tests, all negative...
Day 3 - 10 employees, 10 tests, one positive...

Effective Quarantine rules would state the remaining 9 employees would need to be quarantined for 14 days in isolation, and monitored for symptoms or tested further. daily..BUT, the virus may have a longer incubation period (unknown at present), but that would make the countermeasures ineffective as well...or, it may have actually been in all 10 employees, meaning that ANYONE they contacted might also have been exposed and so on...

Those 10 exposed employees may have unwittingly infected HUNDREDS of others without ever even showing symptoms or having a bad day...which is why this virus is unlike others of the recent and not so recent past. 1917-1918 Influenza may be a good example of how to effectively combat the spread of the virus, but the fact is eventually 70-80% of the total population is likely to be exposed and/or infected. Our preventative measures are only meant (and only capable of) preventing an over-run of the hospitals and healthcare system as a whole.

The only way this can be 'fixed' is identification of a vaccine and world-wide distribution of said vaccine. Otherwise, we are going to be exposed to COVID-19 for years like a plague...


(10,749 posts)
6. Have to disagree with you on this one
Tue May 12, 2020, 12:46 PM
May 2020

Which is weird, because almost every post you write, I think, hey, that's what I was thinking.

Yes, someone who was negative could test positive tomorrow. Trump seemed to have a problem with this on a conceptual level, as in wow, healthy one day, sick the next - it's a mystery.

And, yes, priority has been given to health care workers and those with symptoms.

But then are people like me. Maybe. I feel fine. No symptoms. I'm the designated expendable husband, as I do the shopping and the laundry and such. I wear gloves and masks, and have Clorox wipes in the car (I scored a three-pack at target at the end of March, but that's running low). But I might be Typhoid DUer. I might not have the disease (yay). Or I might have the disease but be asymptomatic, which is okay-ish because asymptomatic people don't die from the disease, from what I've read. So knowing my status would alleviate the uncertainty and maybe even save lives.

Plus, having this information would contribute to the data needed by epidemiologists and others to assess the spread of the disease, contact tracing (if that ever becomes a thing in our increasingly third-world nation), and make policy decisions on allocation of resources (yes, I know that is meaningless to this administration, but it may prove useful when a Democrat is in the WH (ideally next January).

Also, on balance, knowing is better than not knowing. It removes a degree of uncertainty. Yes, if I'm negative, I could become positive. But at least I know where things stand right now.

Although you didn't mention this, I also think that antibody testing should be widely available. Many people have reported that they were sick with flu-like symptoms in late January/early February before the virus began to spread. Flu-like but not the flu. Fever, coughing, body feeling like it is an anchor, etc. They may have sought medical treatment, but that would have been meaningless as there were no tests available and you can't treat the flu other than be dealing with the symptoms. Others would have said, screw it, it'll be gone in a week. Etc. I think it would be useful for these people to be tested for antibodies. Sure, we don't know yet whether that will protect them from having the illness in the future, but, again, knowing is better than not knowing. And it might be useful, or even necessary, to have this information in connection with vaccines in the future.


(32,626 posts)
8. I saw something about..
Tue May 12, 2020, 01:05 PM
May 2020

Wuhan testing all 11 million residents in the next 10 days. If you can clear an entire city, and then just test symptoms that seems like a good way to go?
edit to add https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/12/world/coronavirus-news.html

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