If you have hint of COVID-19 symptoms, insist on being tested

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Should you get tested for the coronavirus when even a hint of a symptom presents itself?

That’s a question many have pondered over the past few months as advice from public officials and top medical professionals has been, well, ambiguous.

A variety of factors — from lack of clear scientific information to a dearth of testing supplies to political considerations (such as not wanting to acknowledge the depth of the problem) — have clouded this issue across the nation for months.

So on Thursday it was notable that Gov. Jay Inslee urged Washingtonians to get tested at even a hint of exposure to the coronavirus.

“If you think you have symptoms, even mild, of COVID-19, please get tested,” Inslee said at a news conference. “Second, if you are a household member of a person who has the suspicion of COVID-19 or who has come into contact with someone, please get tested.”

This advice seems prudent, albeit late in coming. After all, how can knowing whether you do or don’t have the coronavirus be anything but helpful in the fight to stop the spread of the disease?

State Secretary of Health John Wiesman explained why it was not previously urged to be tested as soon as a warning sign appeared.

“There weren’t enough testing supplies available, and secondly, our clinics and others were not necessarily prepared to handle people safely with the infection control precautions,” he said.

But now that testing supplies are available because of shipments from the federal government and state procurement, Wiesman said, adding that state residents have to “unlearn” some of the early messages and hear new ones.

That explanation certainly holds water, but it is nevertheless frustrating to the public. The declarations made with absolute confidence in April and then recanted in June might leave those who don’t follow every gyration of the coronavirus pandemic confused.

In this case, good sense would lead most people to conclude that getting tested in an emerging pandemic would be prudent.

So now that we have been assured by the governor that the supplies to be tested are available, those who are having symptoms should do the prudent thing and get tested as soon as possible.

Secretary Weisman said that in addition to fever and chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, other symptoms include fatigue, muscle or body aches, headaches, a loss of taste or smell, sore throat and congestion, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

“We know that these have been tough decisions for our medical personnel,” Inslee said. “They’ve made some good decisions, but now is the time to really ramp up the testing for folks who have these symptoms.”

We take that to mean, when in doubt, the wise move for yourself, your family, your community and the state is to insist on getting tested for COVID-19.