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Getting kids tested for coronavirus is not that easy or that simple

Kristine Sorensen
July13/ 2020

Many people want to get their kids tested for coronavirus, whether it’s because they want to visit with grandparents, or they traveled out of state and the kids need negative tests to participate in sports, or they just want peace of mind.

But it turns out it’s not that easy or that simple.

First, doctors say when kids get coronavirus, it’s usually not as bad.  “They tend to be milder than what we’re seeing in adults,” says pediatrician Dr. Michael Petrosky with AHN Pediatrics.   “What we’re seeing actually, more in kids than adults, is more gastrointestinal symptoms too,” he says.

But Dr. Petrosky says there’s no easy way for kids to get tested for coronavirus without symptoms or known exposure.

“It’s tough because I know the Allegheny County Health Department recommended people traveling get testing, which is good.  It’s just the infrastructure isn’t there to handle that quantity right now,” Dr. Petrosky says.

Almost all local test sites only test people with symptoms or known exposure because there aren’t enough tests or labs.

Some mail-in tests and urgent care centers offer coronavirus testing without that. The cost is $100 to $300 and may not be covered by insurance.

Dr. Petrosky recommends waiting several days after returning from a vacation or any exposure before getting tested.

He says, “If you test too early, the test may be negative…. If you’re around someone who tested positive, when you test, we say (wait) close to five to six days” since you’ve been with that person.

Results can take another three to seven days, so if you need two negative tests to return to sports or specific places, it could take 14 days which is the same amount of time as quarantining.

If you thought an anti-body test might help tell if your child already had the virus and is now immune, Dr. Petrosky says that’s not so simple either.

He says even if the antibody test showed your child had COVID 19, researchers still don’t know how much protection that gives from getting it again.

Kristine Sorensen

I am proud to work at KDKA-TV -- anchoring the news, hosting Pittsburgh Today Live and doing special reports. I am married to KDKA reporter Marty Griffin and we have 3 children. I first moved to Pittsburgh in 1999 but I’ve lived in Dallas, Johnson City, Tenn., Chicago, Williamsburg, Va., Milwaukee and Winter Park, Fla. Pittsburgh is now the place I call home.

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