Isolating Until COVID-19 Test Results Come Back Could Dramatically Slow Spread: CDC

The federal government will now reimburse doctors who tell their patients to isolate while they wait for their test results to come back

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Self-isolating while waiting for COVID-19 test results could dramatically slow the spread of the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

In fact, data from CDC models are so compelling that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will now reimburse doctors who encourage people to self-isolate until their test results come back.

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The financial incentive, announced Thursday by the CDC and CMS, rewards doctors who tell patients to stay away from others from the time they are tested until they receive their test result. Of course, if the test is positive, the patient should continue to isolate.

Test results can take anywhere from a few days to more than two weeks in some cases to come back. During that time, an infected individual who is not isolating can spread the virus to others. People can spread the virus even if they are not showing symptoms of infection. The CDC models suggest that if people can separate from others while they await results, it could reduce transmission of the coronavirus by up to 86 percent.

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