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Trust Index: Should you get tested for COVID-19 if you don’t have symptoms?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida’s top doctor is discouraging COVID-19 tests for people who do not have symptoms.

Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo says the health department will recommend people forgo testing unless it’s what he considers “high-value” COVID-19 testing — testing that’s likely able to change the outcomes of the diagnosis. For instance, frequent testing of the elderly is what he considers high-value testing, but mandatory testing for schools or businesses for people without symptoms is not.

So should you still get tested even if you don’t have symptoms? We’re making sense of it all through the Trust Index.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is taking issue with Floridians who get tested multiple times a week without experiencing COVID- 19 symptoms.

“Dr. Ladapo is working on providing some testing guidance about who should be testing. I mean, you want to test in order to get a clinical outcome,” DeSantis said.

The state’s surgeon general says Floridians should be separated into two testing categories — either a “high-value” or “low-value” classification.

“We need to unwind this testing, sort of, planning and living one’s life around testing. Without it, we’re going to be stuck in the same cycle. It’s really time for people to be living,” Ladapo said. “To unwind this preoccupation with only COVID as determining the boundaries and constraints and possibilities of life.”

RELATED: DeSantis: Florida seniors will soon be first to receive free at-home rapid tests

New guidelines are expected to discourage tests for people who have a lower risk of a severe outcome — like children and others who aren’t experiencing any symptoms. Ladapo said that COVID-19 tests are controlling the boundaries of Floridians’ lives — something epidemiologist Dr. Jonathan Kantor takes issue with.

″I’m not really familiar with any psychology that testing controls anything. If anything, testing provides freedom,” Kantor said. “It’s sort of like, if you know that you don’t have something, I think that’s usually a relief to people. So, in general, I think for most people there’s always this lagging concern, and the reason why these home tests are so popular is not because people are trying to make it onerous on themselves and to have test control them, but because they have a concern and they may have a nagging worry, and finding that negative test result makes that more free and more relaxed.”

Kantor says being exposed to someone with COVID-19 or working around immunosuppressed individuals are other reasons Floridians should get tested for COVD-19. He does not, however, think Floridians should test randomly.

″I do not think people should be testing willy nilly,” Kantor said. “I mean, I think there are a number of downsides to that like false positives and you are going to increase the strain on a system that’s already straining to do enough tests for those that are symptomatic.”

So to the statement that you shouldn’t get tested for COVID-19 unless you have symptoms, the News4JAX Trust Index team is rating it as “Be Careful.” Right now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says reasons for testing include if you have symptoms, had exposure to COVID-19, for screen for work or school, or before travel.

Be Careful

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About the Author:

Tarik anchors the 4, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. weekday newscasts and reports with the I-TEAM.