Why a negative coronavirus test isn’t always accurate

MEDFORD, Ore. — Medical experts say getting a negative coronavirus test result doesn’t always mean you’re in the clear.

Jackson County Public Health’s Dr. Jim Shames says there’s something called a false negative test. That’s when people who have vague or no symptoms get tested and their results aren’t accurate.

“If you test somebody who is asymptomatic or very early in their symptoms who later turns out to have COVID-19, their initial test could be negative when, in fact, two or three days later they have a positive test,” said Dr. Jim Shames, Jackson Co. Public Health.

Dr. Shames say no test is perfect.

With the county’s limited testing and personal protective gear available, he says tests should be prioritized for ‘high risk’ individuals.

That includes the elderly, health care workers, those with underlying health conditions, or people who are sick enough to end up in the hospital.

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