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Testing Timeline: How long does it take for positive COVID-19 tests to be reported by FDOH?

At the earliest, a week
Posted at 6:50 PM, May 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-08 18:50:53-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — While looking at coronavirus numbers, you might wonder how it long it takes to get from exposure to reporting those numbers.

It would take, at the earliest, a week to know how reopening has impacted the number of positive cases.

Between feeling symptoms of the virus and waiting to get test results back, there is a lot to consider.

Feeling the symptoms of COVID-19 can take two days to two weeks from when you were exposed to the virus.

Then, your test has to ship to the lab.

Tests done in Tallahassee are processed Virginia, meaning you have to wait for the lab to receive your sample.

It's a waiting game some say they don't mind playing, although week after week of isolation has been a struggle.

"It's very hard," said James Oyetunji. "It's very frustrating having to stay home for such a long period of time. I never have done something like this in my life, pretty much being locked down by society."

But Oyetunji says he's willing to spend a little more time away from crowds.

"I know some states, there have been a peak in activity by having programs and things resume back to normal," Oyetunji said.

Cases peaking is a fear many have.

"I remember when it first started, it was spring break in Miami," said Johnathan Lang. "It spiked down there because people were all going there. I know it's the same at a mall or somewhere else."

That fear has people eyeing the number of positive tests in Florida waiting to see a spike. But it could take days or weeks before you see the number.

First, you have to be exposed.

"Symptoms could happen two to 14 days after exposure," said Anneka Johnson, a nurse practitioner at Bond Community Health.

Testing is becoming more readily available, but you still have to wait on those results.

After 2 p.m. on a Saturday or Sunday means it won't leave Tallahassee until Monday. Once the lab receives your test, it takes at least 72 hours to get results.

Staff at Bond Community Health say the best thing to do is to make sure you get a test as soon as you start to feel symptoms.

"The best thing to do is get tested for confirmation of a positive or negative result. We are calling our patients in a timely manner to give them the results of the test. If you are tested, we're telling our patients to be quarantined for 14 days."

Many of the symptoms are flu-like but you may also feel shortness of breath or even lose your sense of taste and smell.

"It takes three to four days to get a positive or negative result back," Johnson said.

So while it's takes some time to see the effects of going out into a crowd, some say they would rather play it safe and stay inside.

"I feel like I'll be safe when the numbers start dropping and they've found a cure," Lang said.

Testing is now recommended for everyone mostly because asymptomatic people could possibly be spreading the virus.

Wearing masks and social distancing is also still remains strongly encouraged.