Experts weigh in on when to get COVID-19 tested after holiday exposures

The Blue Ridge Health District says it has seen long COVID-19 testing lines for about a week now.
Published: Dec. 27, 2021 at 4:41 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Blue Ridge Health District says it has seen long COVID-19 testing lines for about a week now. However, now might not be the best time to get tested, even if you were around people on Christmas.

“We don’t have adequate testing capabilities to test everyone that needs to get tested,” Doctor Bill Petri with UVA Health said.

BRHD said Monday, Dec. 27, that its testing sites hit capacity each day last week. It’s hoping for a different outcome this week.

“We have increased our staffing at our test sites this week, and we are doing our best to have more tests available,” Sabrina Torgesen with BRHD said.

BRHD encourages people who are feeling sick to get tested right away. However, experts say if you feel fine Monday, then you probably should wait to get tested until later in the week.

“If you’ve been exposed and are asymptomatic, it’s best to get tested five to seven days after exposure,” Torgesen said. “It’s called the inoculation periods, that’s how long it takes for the virus to build up in your body. So if you were exposed and you don’t have symptoms, it’s best to wait the five to seven days just so there is enough virus to be detected if you are positive.”

Assuming you were exposed to the coronavirus Christmas Day, then a more-accurate result would come from a test around Friday, Dec. 30.

“If you’ve been vaccinated and boosted, you do not need to isolate because that’s how good the vaccine was, and booster is,” Dr. Petri said. “However, you do need to be tested like five days later. That’s still recommended, just a follow-up testing.”

Hopefully, this will help people be prepared for the next holiday celebration: “New Year’s Eve would probably be like an ideal time to be tested to know that you’re not carrying the infection,” Petri said.

There is a testing clinic Monday, December 27 at Church of the Incarnation, 1465 Incarnation Dr. in Charlottesville. A list of other testing sites throughout the week in the district can be found at COVID-19 BRHD Testing Sites - Blue Ridge (

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