In the leadup to the holidays, maybe we can start talking about our coronavirus tests in a slightly different way.

If you do not test positive for the coronavirus, consider that is more about the virus being "not detected," rather than you being "negative" for the virus. 1/
Because maybe the virus is there — but it's not yet present at high enough levels to be found on a test. You could still be infected. You could still be contagious. You could test again tomorrow and be positive; you could test again in five hours and be positive. 2/
Or perhaps you're not infected yet. A test is a snapshot in time; it says nothing about your status in the future. Every trip to the grocery store, even masked, could be an exposure. And a test today won't catch tomorrow's infection. Tests are also imperfect. 3/
"Negative" is often a clear word. But in cases like these, it might lull people into feeling more secure about the virus than is actually the case. Remember that risk is a SPECTRUM, not a binary. Tests are helpful but not the end-all-be-all. 4/
If a test did not detect the virus in you today, great. That is NEVER an excuse by itself to gather or eschew masks. Always stay vigilant. Always know you could still have the virus, and could still pose a transmission risk, regardless of what a point-in-time result says. 5/5

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More from @KatherineJWu

12 Nov
A few weeks ago, I heard scattered rumors about bizarre positives coming out of coronavirus testing programs at universities.

It didn't seem to be the coronavirus. It also wasn't contamination in the labs processing the tests. It was weirder. 1/…
Researchers working with harmless, noninfectious genetic material from the virus (in the form of DNA) were testing positive, over and over again.

They weren't shoving their science up their noses. They were being careful, and doing great work.

The DNA clung to them anyway. 2/
If that DNA happened to overlap with the target of a coronavirus test, that quickly spelled trouble for some. The test picked up that "contaminating" DNA, and thought hey, this is exactly what I was looking for. Positive. 3/
Read 22 tweets
2 Nov
Rapid tests are already being used to screen people without symptoms for the coronavirus — even though they're not cleared for this purpose, and the data in asymptomatics is sparse.

Some of that data is emerging. It might not be what some hoped. 1/…
Is there still a role for rapid tests? Absolutely. More data will be needed to figure out where they fit in best. But for now, it's crucial for people to understand that not all coronavirus test negatives are created equal. 2/
Testing negative on less sensitive tests, for example, might not mean you're virus-free.

Could it mean you're not infectious? Maybe. That's really, really hard to test.

It's very likely to be the case that people will less virus in their bodies are less infectious. 3/
Read 10 tweets

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