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Testing is 'still a critical component' in the fight against COVID-19

In the push to get coronavirus vaccines rolled out, health leaders stress that testing remains the eyes and ears of the pandemic.

NORFOLK, Va. — "The more we know about the landscape of the viruses that are out there, it allows us to tailor our response," said Dr. Brooke Rossheim, a public health physician specialist with the Virginia Department of Health.

Rossheim told 13News Now they want to see the symptomatic or close contacts to a positive case get tested, regardless of vaccination status.

Health leaders would also like employees, particularly unvaccinated ones, who work in public-facing jobs to consider getting tested.

“So testing is definitely still a critical component," said Rossheim. "It doesn’t take the place of anything, but what it does do is it complements vaccinations, it complements masking, it complements handwashing, it complements social distancing.”

VDH has a webpage to find the nearest COVID-19 testing site to you. There are ways to narrow your search to rapid testing or free testing.

A lot of the pharmacies require appointments and they're filling up fast.

Some providers don't charge patients at all. Others do.

Check with your insurance to see if a test is covered in your health plan. If you don't have insurance, there are options to pay upfront.

But any testing clinics run by state and local health departments should be free.

Credit: Angelique Arintok, 13News Now

There's also demand for self-test kits you can buy at the store.

"To take the test at their leisure, in their home," said Dr. Anna Peoples, owner of independent Peoples Pharmacy in Norfolk. She just added over-the-counter at-home test kits to her storefront, but she still takes walk-ins for PCR or rapid antigen tests.

"Because if there's a question about if you have or if you don't have it, then testing is the right way to go," said Peoples. 

A CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid in Norfolk we visited were all out of at-home kits. But with all this talk about testing, doctors we spoke with continue encouraging the vaccine. They describe it as our best protection against COVID-19.

ALSO: There's another opportunity to get tested for COVID-19 at Military Circle Mall in Norfolk. After seeing the demand from this week, another testing clinic will take place Wednesday, September 1. The site will be open from 1 to 5 p.m., free for anyone ages 3 and up. 

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