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As COVID-19 cases rise, health experts encourage testing regardless of vaccination status

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WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) - COVID-19 cases are rising across the state, and so are the number of tests being given. Health experts suggest getting tested even if you are vaccinated, and many in the state, and across the country, have been doing just that.

"Through the month of August, it was ramping up pretty significantly," MercyOne Chief Medical Officer Dr. Matt Sojka said.

Both UnityPoint and MercyOne in Waterloo are seeing more testing done in recent weeks than they have earlier this year. The number of tests in May and June was not as high as in August.

"We have enough at least to test symptomatic patients in our emergency room, in our urgent care, so we're getting those individuals tested that are symptomatic enough to end up on our doorstep," Dr. Sojka said.

However, those who don't have serious symptoms have to test on their own. Test Iowa sites closed down back in July so now folks need to pick up their own tests and mail them to the state hygienic lab. Though it may be a bit more time-consuming than the drive-thru sites, it could be worth it to know where you stand.

"If it's negative and you're still suspicious try to stay away from others, mask, and test again in a couple of days," Dr. Sojka said.

Whether or not you are vaccinated, a runny nose, cough, and loss of taste and smell are the big symptoms to look out for.

"It won't be as severe as if you were unvaccinated but you're still going to have some symptoms," he said.

Still, according to Dr. Sojka, the easiest way to stay out of the hospital is to get vaccinated.

"You really are going to protect your family, your friends, and yourself from getting more ill if you get that done," he said.

Rapid tests can be found at certain pharmacies and grocery stores but may not be recognized if you are planning to travel, and can cost about $25. You can find providers for the free Test Iowa test kits by visiting Test Iowa.

If you do test positive for COVID-19 some doctors recommend waiting 90 days before you get vaccinated. Though it is not required to wait, doctors like Dr. Sojka have experience with patients having worse side effects from getting the vaccine too close to their recovery.

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Diego Hernandez

Multimedia Journalist

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