According to the West Piedmont Health District, which includes Franklin County, testing demand has recently increased across the western region, as cases of COVID-19 are rising due to the more contagious Delta variant.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reminds everyone that many locations are available throughout the region and across the commonwealth for individuals seeking COVID-19 testing.

“All COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing serious illness and death,” VDH states. “While vaccination is the most effective strategy to protect individuals, families and communities, testing remains an important tool to help identify individuals with illness, protect those around them and monitor trends in COVID-19 infections.”

“It’s critical that we reserve our hospital emergency rooms and rescue squads for medical emergencies, so if you’re seeking a COVID test and it is not an emergency, please utilize other testing locations,” said Laurie Forlano, M.D., deputy director, VDH Office of Epidemiology.

VDH recommends that the following people be tested for COVID-19:

• Those with symptoms or signs of COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status.

• Those who have had close contact with someone known or suspected to have COVID-19.

• Fully vaccinated people should be tested three to five days following a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, even if they don’t have symptoms.

• People who are not fully vaccinated should be tested immediately after an exposure, and again five to seven days following exposure if the first test is negative.

• Those who participate in activities that are higher risk for COVID-19 exposure (e.g. travel, attending large events where social distancing is not possible, or being in crowded indoor settings).

• Those who have been referred for COVID-19 testing by their health care provider or the health department.

• Those who plan to travel or who have recently returned from travel with some exceptions for fully vaccinated people.

• Those who are not fully vaccinated and who plan to visit people at high risk of developing severe COVID-19.

Those who tested positive for COVID-19 within the past three months and recovered do not need to get tested after exposure as long as they do not have symptoms.

VDH has partnered with Walgreens to provide Abbott BinaxNow Rapid antigen testing at no cost, at selected locations. Walgreens pharmacy team members will help you self-administer your COVID-19 test. Test results will be processed at the pharmacy and provided to patients within 24 hours. COVID-19 testing is available by appointment to adults and children ages 2 and older who meet screening criteria for testing. Make an appointment at Walgreens.com/COVID19Testing.

Due to the current surge in COVID-19 cases, some testing locations may prioritize tests for symptomatic persons or persons with known close contact to a person with COVID-19.

For questions about COVID-19 testing or a list of testing locations, visit the VDH website or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682), Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

To schedule your vaccine, request a vaccination record or for more information on COVID-19 vaccines, visit www.vaccinate.virginia.gov.

Read more stories in the current issue of the Smith Mountain Eagle newspaper. If subscribed, view the e-edition version at www.smithmountaineagle.com/eedition. If not subscribed, pick up a print edition or subscribe at www.smithmountaineagle.com/subscriber_services.

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