August 10, 2021

Delta variant necessitates broader COVID-19 testing in the community

A swab being inserted into COVID-19 testing solution

Madison, Wis. — As the COVID-19 delta variant leads to rising infection rates across Wisconsin and the nation, there is a renewed urgency for people to get tested for the virus, even if they have been vaccinated.

People who have symptoms of COVID-19 like coughing, runny nose, sore throat, fever or loss of taste or smell, among a long list of others, people who have been exposed to COVID-19 or people who are traveling should get tested for COVID-19, according to current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Wisconsin Department of Health Services guidelines.

This is true regardless of if someone has been vaccinated, said Dr. Nasia Safdar, medical director, infection control, UW Health, and associate professor of medicine at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.

“We know now that the delta variant is much more infectious than the original strain, and though rare, even those who have been vaccinated can become infected with the virus and spread it to others,” she said. “Testing is still as necessary as ever."

This is especially urgent given those who are vaccinated may feel that being infected with COVID-19 may not be as dangerous because of their vaccination, but the virus can be spread regardless of how severe the symptoms are, if any present themselves at all, Safdar said.

“Testing continues to be a crucial step to tracking this virus, but we all must do our parts to stop the spread by masking, physical distancing, and especially getting vaccinated,” she said. “Together we can save lives and keep our friends, neighbors and families safe and healthy.”

UW Health offers testing for its patients and employees experiencing symptoms or scheduled for certain procedures, and partners with Public Health Madison & Dane County for public community testing at its John Wall Drive facility. For the public, testing is widely available at other PHMDC locations and at other community sites. For a complete list, visit the DHS website.