Health experts say the need for COVID testing grows as the Omicron variant spreads

When to get tested
Published: Dec. 26, 2021 at 8:02 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 26, 2021 at 10:00 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Omicron variant has become the dominant strain across the country and health leaders said it will soon be the main strain in Alabama.

State Health Officer, Dr. Scott Harris, said Omicron is about eight times more infectious than the original COVID strain, so Harris said we can guarantee an increase in cases. But, he said it can be hard to tell the difference between this new strain and a cold or the flu without a test.

Data shows that Omicron doesn’t seem to be causing the dead give away symptoms of loss of taste or smell. Harris said it’s symptoms are similar to the common cold, so he said it is very important to slow the spread of this new strain, that you get tested for the virus anytime you feel symptoms.

“I think the strategy for moving forward is to test regularly,” Harris said. “Test particularly if you think you have some kind of symptoms. Test if you are going to be in a situation that might be high risk for others, like a holiday gathering or if you will be indoors for a long period of time.”

Dr. Harris said stock up on at home COVID tests if you can. He said they are just as reliable as PCR tests and the state trusts them.

Harris said starting next month, insurance providers will reimburse you for the cost of those tests.

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