RICHMOND, Va. -- On his journey from the Czech Republic to Richmond to visit family for the first in years, Andrew Murphy had to get tested for COVID-19 twice, even though he was vaccinated a while back.
“Got to make up for two years of lost time,” Murphy said. “I’ve just been making sure I don’t get exposed to people so much and then I just don’t worry about it.”
The visit comes as the highly contagious delta variant makes up a majority of cases in Virginia, which have been increasing dramatically over the past month, including among vaccinated Virginians. Along with that spike in cases comes a boom in the number of Virginians getting a COVID-19 test.
Statewide, the average number of daily tests administered in the Commonwealth basically doubled in the past month, from 7,135 tests on July 6 to 15,216 on August 6, when the delta variant began to take hold.
In Central Virginia, average daily tests in the Chesterfield, Chickahominy and Richmond City health districts have mimicked the statewide trend.
“We’re really grateful that people chose to get tested still, even if they are vaccinated,” said Joanna Cirillo, Communicable Disease Nurse Supervisor for the Richmond Health District.
Cirillo said if a Virginian is exposed to COVID-19, they should get tested since vaccinated people can still spread the delta variant.
“So, we do recommend, and the CDC recommends, that if you’re exposed to COVID and you're fully vaccinated, you get tested three to five days after exposure to make sure you don’t have the virus because it looks like you could still spread it to folks,” she said.
Here is where the current guidance stands from the VDH and CDC after that test result comes back:
- If you test positive, regardless of your vaccination status, you should isolate yourself at home for 10 days (from symptom onset or test date).
- If you are vaccinated, exposed to COVID, and test negative, you can still go out and about but should be wearing a mask indoors for 14 days after exposure.
- If you are unvaccinated and exposed to COVID, we advise you to stay home in quarantine for 14 days post-exposure.
- A detailed breakdown of the testing guidance can be found here.
“We are so far from where we were a year ago. Here at the health department, we have totally free testing events,” Cirillo said about access to testing.
Testing slots are available at local stores and pharmacies, but Cirillo said if someone has trouble getting one, over-the-counter tests are available in many locations for around $25.
“Ideally, if you have one of these at-home kits, you can swab yourself to make sure the virus hasn’t made its way into you and you’re able to spread it,” Cirillo said. “So, if you get a sore throat at the end of the day, you’re a little nervous, you can do it yourself; and depending on the result, you can call your doctor the next day.”
The Richmond-Henrico Health District continues to advise all Virginians to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
“We did mask, and then we did vaccines, and we took our masks off. With those two, it’s like putting your best players on the field at the same time. It’s going to slow the spread of COVID,” Cirillo said.
Murphy said he enjoys being careful, and if he displays symptoms on his trip despite his caution, he has no problem getting yet another test.
“If I cross my t’s and tick the boxes, then I can relax. It doesn’t stress me out to deal with it; it would stress me out not to deal with it,” he said.
To find a COVID-19 testing site, you can click here.