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COVID-19 Testing: Overview of Available Options

Blood sample tube positive with COVID-19

Over the past six to eight months, the Boca Grande Health Clinic and its physicians have worked hard to provide a care environment that laid the foundation for the safe return of winter residents and the ongoing health of our Island community. This includes making COVID-19 testing available on the Island, to Clinic patients. The starting point is having a conversation with your physician. Additional testing options are available, including local CVS pharmacies, State Department of Health testing sites and even options for self-testing at home. We advise those who are interested in getting tested to contact their own healthcare provider or the Clinic to review your personal situation and get specific guidance on what is the best option in your individual case.

There are basically two kinds of tests available for COVID-19: viral tests and antibody tests. A viral test tells you if you have a current infection. An antibody test might tell you if you had a past infection.

The Clinic currently offers COVID-19 testing with a saliva PCR test, a molecular test that detects the virus’s genetic material. This is a test for active infection. You perform the test at home and ship the sample via FedEx Express. Results are usually available in one to three days.

We will soon have the ability to perform rapid antigen testing. This test involves a nasal swab and tests for active infection. We will perform the rapid tests in a designated area outside of the Annex building.  We also are available to provide a test for COVID-19 antibodies, which requires a blood draw and can give confirmation of a previous infection with COVID-19.

We look forward to your return to Boca Grande. We encourage you to call us when you arrive on Island, if at any time you develop symptoms of COVID-19 or if you ever have a known exposure to COVID-19 to discuss an appropriate testing protocol for your individual situation.

Testing plays an important role in the overall approach to containing the virus. However, testing cannot replace the need to wear face coverings.  When around others not in your household, keep a safe distance (at least six feet) while in public, avoid large gatherings (especially indoors), and wash your hands frequently.

Please see the table below for a quick at-a-glance view of the Clinic’s COVID-19 testing options.

COVID-19 Testing at the Clinic: At a Glance

Test NamePurpose/UseMethod of CollectionTime Until ResultReliability
(how often the test is accurate)
Other
Rapid Antigen
Detects viral proteins
Use in the first 1-5 days of symptoms
(Best used in those that are ill)
Nasal swab15 minutesNegative result
~80% accurate
Positive result
~95% accurate
Preliminary result
Follow with PCR for confirmation.
PCR
Detects viral RNA
Use in symptomatic or for asymptomatic (exposure or after travel)Saliva1-3 days“Gold standard”
95% accurate in those that are ill
Can be less accurate if done early in illness or early after exposure.
IgG
Antibody
Use to determine if recovered from previous infection
Use to determine plasma donor
Blood draw1-3 daysOver 90% accurate
(see “other”)
Best done 4-6 weeks after infection. Not all develop antibodies after confirmed acute infection and can fall to non-detectable levels 3-4 months after acute infection.

Here are the current basics (“the 1-2-3s”) we have communicated for coming back to Boca Grande. 

1. Before You Travel

  • Do not travel if you are ill. 
  • Do not travel with someone else who is ill. 
  • Find out the activity level of COVID-19 at your destination as well as all planned travels stops along the way. 
  • Do not travel if you were exposed to COVID-19 within 14 days of travel.

2. Upon Arrival

  • If you arrive in Boca Grande with increased risk, consider extra protective measures. You might quarantine for 14 days or consider being tested. Talk to your Clinic physician about your options.
  • Increased risk is considered if:
  • You travel from an area or state with CDC Level 3 Health Travel Notice. Level 3 is defined as “COVID-19 Risk is High.” This information is available on the CDC website, see Travel Health Notices.
  • You have been at a large social gathering, sporting event, wedding, or concert within 14 days of travel. 
  • You have spent extended time in crowded airports.
  • You have traveled on a cruise ship or river boat within 14 days of travel.

3. When You Travel

  • Remember that travel of any type increases the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19.
  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth when in public facilities. 
  • Where possible, avoid close contact, adhering to the six-foot distancing recommendation. 
  • Avoid unnecessary touches. 
  • Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol. 

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