KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Testing supply challenges lead to the obvious question: If you have to wait four, five or six days to get tested, how much is the information from that test worth anyway?

Public health leaders are stressing that the results are still important and that the actions of the person awaiting that test is paramount.

Health officials want to remind people that if you have scheduled a test for COVID-19 and it’s days away, those people should be quarantining — not waiting for the results of a test to make a decision whether or not to get out of the mix.

So if it’s Tuesday and you want a COVID-test but the soonest appointment you can find is on Saturday, here’s what you should do.

“So you would start with definitely take that appointment and keep looking. Always a good place to start,” Spring Schmidt, president of the Missouri Center for Public Health Excellence (MOCPHE), said.

Schmidt said the next step is to ask yourself, am I vaccinated or unvaccinated?

“If I have a small tickle in my throat and I’m vaccinated, maybe that is less of a concern. It’s a small tickle in my throat. But let’s say my symptoms start to get worse and I’m definitely coughing and I start to run a fever. So those are definite signs that you are transmitting a virus no matter what it is,” Schmidt said.

“As those symptoms get worse, your actions need to change,” Schmidt said.

You should think about the people you’ve been around and possibly exposed. You can also notify people of the situation before having the evidence of a positive test.

Schmidt said that is the personal responsibility aspect of having an illness while there isn’t enough testing supplies to meet demand.

Here’s another wonky part: The CDC recommends if you have COVID symptoms, isolation can end after 5 full days if you are fever free for 24 hours with symptoms improving.

So in some cases, you might not be able to get a COVID test before reaching that five day timeline.

And as backed-up as things are around Kansas City, it’s worse outside the metro, Schmidt said.

“The testing environment in every urban area in Missouri is so much better that every rural area in Missouri. And, you know…we’re just going to continue to exacerbate those disparities.”

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