UVM Medical Center no longer COVID testing for asymptomatic out-of-state travelers

Visitors or returnees from out of state who show no symptoms of COVID-19 can no longer rely on the University of Vermont Medical Center for a test that could allow them to break their quarantine early. 

The medical center’s change in practice, which went into effect Tuesday, Sept. 1, requires asymptomatic people to stick it out for the full two weeks. 

The Vermont Health Department allows people to break quarantine if they present no symptoms and test negative for the coronavirus at least seven days into their isolation.

“Some of the testing centers across the network were getting inundated with people who were wanting to test in order to shorten their quarantine, essentially for convenience reasons,” said Dr. Tim Lahey, an infectious disease physician with the medical center.

Lahey understood people’s desire to shorten their quarantine, but felt it made sense to standardize testing to account for those with higher need. These could include people who are symptomatic, individuals who have been exposed to a positive COVID-19 case or those working in nursing homes, as examples.

More:Vermont goes against CDC recommendation to change COVID-19 testing protocols

People who isolate for two weeks can go back to business as normal without a test if they have no symptoms. 

What Vermont’s Health Department says about asymptomatic COVID testing 

The main contenders for testing, according to the state, are those with symptoms; people who had close contact with someone who tested positive; and individuals whose health care providers referred them for testing. 

“While anyone can get tested, not everyone needs to get tested,” the Health Department wrote on its website. 

Individuals can still test through the state to end their quarantine early, according to information on the website last updated Thursday. This goes for people who do not present symptoms, test at least one week into quarantine and who stay isolated until results come back negative. 

A University of Vermont Health Network critical care team conducts drive-up testing for Covid-19 at the Essex fairgrounds in Essex Junction, Vt., on Monday, March 16, 2020. Patients must be referred by their doctor to undergo testing.

“Studies have found most people will develop symptoms by Day 7,” the website said. “This is why there is the option for people to be tested at Day 7 or after in their quarantine and, if the test is negative, to end quarantine. The test must be a PCR test.”

The PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, test identifies individuals who currently have COVID-19, according to the website. The Vermont Department of Health Laboratory uses a PCR test that accurately provides a positive result 95% of the time, the department said on its website. 

Vermont discouraged people from testing “just to make sure they’re okay” before gatherings. The test will only indicate if someone has COVID-19 the day of, but does not necessarily reflect if an individual tested too early for the disease to appear or is exposed later. Vermont also cautioned against frequent testing. 

“We do not recommend routine, repeated testing just for peace of mind,” the department said on its website. “While testing supplies are currently adequate, we need to use what we have wisely.”

People can access testing at different locations, including the state’s pop-up sites. 

Contact Maleeha Syed at mzsyed@freepressmedia.com or 802-495-6595. Follow her on Twitter @MaleehaSyed89

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