Published On: Wed, Nov 25th, 2020

Holiday Tips in the Shadow of a Pandemic

PBC Commissioner Robert S Weinroth notes that with the holidays upon us, many residents are encountering extra stress as they try to juggle family, food and COVID-19 concerns. 

The following link to the CDC’s website provides some excellent information for you to consider to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 to keep your friends, families, and communities healthy and safe: cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html

Weinroth noted, “Our office has been been getting numerous questions about the different types of COVID-19 tests available. There are 3 main types of tests: molecular (aka PCR), antigen, and antibody (aka serology).”

  • The PCR and the antigen tests detect active infection, considered to be diagnostic tests. The antibody test detects potential past exposure.
  • The molecular tests, called PCR tests, detect the virus’s genetic material. The antigen tests detect specific viral proteins. Each of these types of diagnostics have traditional and rapid testing options.
  • Generally speaking, PCR tests are more accurate than antigen tests and have higher sensitivity with lower false negative rates.
  • Rapid tests may be either molecular (PCR) or antigen. These use similar samples as traditional tests, but enable you to get your results in your doctor’s office, without sending the sample to a lab. The main benefit: it’s fast and usually less expensive, but rapid tests have high rates of false negatives.
  • The sensitivity of rapid tests compared to traditional tests is generally lower, and among the rapid tests, the antigen test is much less sensitive than the PCR test. The rapid antigen test can yield up to 50% false negative test results. We sacrifice accuracy for speed; the antigen test will only capture infected (symptomatic) persons within a small window at the peak of infectivity. It is good practice to get several tests over a period of days if you opt for the antigen test route.
  • If you are tested too soon after an exposure, you risk a false negative test, meaning you are infected, but the virus hasn’t reproduced enough for detection. It is recommended you get a PCR-based diagnostic test if you have symptomatic illness. If you are asymptomatic but had a known exposure, wait at least 5 days after that exposure to be tested. The optimal time for a PCR diagnostic test is 5 days after exposure to day 10 of physical illness.

The average onset of symptoms is five days post-exposure, and your peak infectivity is two days before and one day after symptom onset.

You can be in the incubation period for 2-14 days, which is why you need to quarantine after an exposure, even if you received a negative test. It is possible to test negative at day 5, and then positive at day 8, simply due to longer incubation time.

One negative test of any kind is not an immunity pass! Even the most accurate PCR tests will yield false negative results if the test is performed too soon after an exposure. Even if you test negative, you must continue to wear a mask and take proper precautions. More information can be found at: cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/testing-overview.html

Thank you and please have a safe and happy holiday season.

About the Author

- Robert Weinroth is a 27 year resident of Boca Raton where he is an attorney, businessman, former member of the City Council (where he served for four years) and currently serves as an elected member of the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners. Commissioner Weinroth went to Boston’s Northeastern University where he earned a BSBA in Management. He went on to earn his Juris Doctor at New England School of Law. He is admitted to practice law in Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey and the Supreme Court of the United States. Weinroth served as president and general counsel of Freedom Medical Services Inc, an accredited medical supply company in Boca Raton. FREEDOMED® represented the realization of an entrepreneurial dream. Weinroth, and his wife Pamela operated the company for 16 years, eventually selling the business in 2016. Weinroth takes great pride in his past work as a volunteer Guardian ad Litem for the 15th Judicial Circuit, advocating for the needs of abused and neglected children deemed dependent by the Court. After serving on multiple community boards and committees, Weinroth was elected to the Boca Raton City Council in 2014. During his tenure, he served as CRA Vice-chair and Deputy Mayor and was appointed to a number of county boards including the Boca Raton Airport Authority, the Palm Tran Service Board, the Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency, the Treasure Coast Planning Council and was elected a board member of the Palm Beach County League of Cities. Commissioner Weinroth serves as County Vice-Mayor and has been appointed Chair of the Solid Waste Authority, a board member of the PBC Transportation Planning Agency, and alternate representative on the Treasure Coast Planning Agency and several other county and regional boards. Robert, Pamela and their two dogs, Sierra and Siggy, are proud to call Boca Raton home.

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