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Coronavirus Questions Answered: When Will More People Be Tested?

Gov. Mike DeWine plans to buy more tests for the state. [Salov Evgeniy / Shutterstock]
Gov. Mike DeWine plans to buy more tests for the state. [Salov Evgeniy / Shutterstock]

Updated on May 14, 2020 at 4pm

What are your questions about the coronavirus?

ideastream is answering as many questions as possible, with help from local experts in a range of fields. You can  send us your questions with our online form, through our  social media  pages and  group or call us at 216-916-6476. We'll  keep the answers coming on our website and on the air.

Michele asked: “When will Ohioans who are not within the priority groups be tested? For example, people who are asymptomatic.”

Rite Aid announced Thursday it would begin testing anyone over 18 years old at no cost for COVID-19, even if they aren’t showing symptoms.

The expanded testing capabilities will be available in four Ohio stores, including Parma, Akron, and one in Trumbull County.

According to the Rite Aid website, the testing is available through Verily, a research company owned by Alphabet Inc. People seeking testing must pre-register online.

Local health systems that are doing drive-thru COVID testing, including Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals, continue to reserve testing for those with symptoms, especially health care workers or people who are hospitalized.

Cuyahoga County Health Commissioner Terry Allan is hopeful more Ohioans will be tested soon.

“I would say in the next few weeks, by the end of May, you’re going to see a much higher level of testing, and it’s going to ramp up over the next few weeks," Allan said.

Gov. Mike DeWine has said new agreements with medical supply companies will allow for more Ohioans to be tested.

With more tests, priority will still be given to people showing symptoms, but people who may be asymptomatic could eventually get tested, according to the state’s new testing priorities.

Cuyahoga County announced Friday it will also buy more tests to expand testing. But the county will also prioritize certain groups, including clusters where there are many confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Ohio currently averages 5,717 tests per day and still has a long way to go when it comes to the number of tests needed to contain the outbreak, according to calculations from Harvard’s Global Health Institute.

Bambi from Mentor asks: “How soon after exposure to COVID-19 could someone expect to test positive?”

Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Amy Edwards of University Hospitals says the answer varies from person to person.

However, she says it appears that most people can start to test positive as soon as they have symptoms or a day before, which would be about 5-10 days after exposure.

If you test too soon after exposure, the test may read negative, even if you’ve been exposed. And if you test too late after exposure, it may read negative because viral tests can only confirm if you currently have the virus. 

The CDC says regardless of test results, you should take measures to protect others by avoiding close contact, wearing a cloth face mask, and frequently washing your hands.

lisa.ryan@ideastream.org | 216-916-6158