Where to Find a COVID Testing Site in Hamilton County

If you are getting a COVID test before seeing friends or family over the holidays, remember that a negative test doesn't mean you have a get-out-of-jail-free card.

click to enlarge Where to Find a COVID Testing Site in Hamilton County
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As COVID cases continue to spike across the county and in Ohio — and with the Thanksgiving holiday approaching — many may be wondering where they can get a coronavirus test, whether they're showing symptoms, think they may have been exposed or just want to get tested before seeing family members this holiday. 

The Health Collaborative — a nonprofit organization of local health partners — and Hamilton County Public Health both have a list of testing locations on their websites, including no-appointment-needed daily test sites at healthcollab.org/testandprotect.

The CDC recommends COVID testing for: 

  • People who have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • People who have had close contact (within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or more) with someone with confirmed COVID-19.
  • People who have been asked or referred to get testing by their health care provider, local or state ​health department.

But with an increase in viral transmission in an area comes an increase in need for testing: there were 351 cases reported in Hamilton County on Nov. 19; on Nov. 13, that number was 960.

"As of the start of this week, we’re averaging 500 tests per day, but I can guarantee that number will skyrocket after this week," says Shannan Schmitt​, director of communications for the Health Collaborative. "Our testing sites are jam packed. There’s definitely been an increase, hard to tell if people are coming out because of the spread or because they want to make sure they’re not infected ahead of the holiday. Probably both."

The Health Collaborative locations use a nasal test, which has a 5% false positive rate and a false negative rate somewhere between 2% and 37%. No prescription or appointment is needed for a test and you can pre-register at redcap.research.cchmc.org.

But if you are getting a COVID test before seeing friends or family over the holidays, remember that a negative test doesn't mean you have a get-out-of-jail-free card. 

"We’re already seeing a rush, one test site had more than 1,000 people tested half way through the allotted time yesterday. While we’re pleased to see so many people getting tested, we’re also cautious in reminding everyone that a negative test result is not an invitation to a COVID-free Thanksgiving," Schmitt says.

The CDC says, "If you test negative, you probably were not infected at the time your sample was collected. The test result only means that you did not have COVID-19 at the time of testing."

COVID has a 14-day incubation period, so if you were exposed to COVID, you can become ill any time within that 14-day period. You can also contract COVID in between the time of the test and when you receive your results, or between when you receive your results and when you interact with others.

In terms of seeing others over the holidays, current advice from Hamilton County Public Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman is that if anyone in your household has been exposed to or tested positive for COVID, Thanksgiving should be held only with those in your immediate household. The same goes for those who have COVID symptoms, feel sick or are in quarantine.

"Each family is going to have to make their own decisions based on risk," Kesterman said. "Clearly, the public health recommendation this year because of the pandemic is to take no risk, so stay within your household bubble and not branch out."

And the CDC says the best way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is just with those in your immediate household, regardless.

Schmitt says results from the Health Collaborative's testing sites are currently averaging 39 hours. 

"We’re hopeful we stay at or below that turnaround but more tests could mean a slight delay in results," she says. 'We try to message that out accordingly when we know there is backup at the labs."

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