null Should I Get Tested for COVID-19 Today?
Introducing a new addition to When To Test: The Calculator for Individuals! Read more to see how the Calculator works and why it can be a useful tool for you, your friends and your family!
November 1, 2021
The WTT Calculator for Individuals is here! In less than a minute, this decision-support tool can help you decide whether you need to take a COVID-19 test today.
A recent addition to WhenToTest.org, the WTT Calculator for Individuals is one I was excited to try, so I visited the Calculator this morning. After entering all my inputs, I was relieved to learn that my risk of having or spreading COVID-19 remains low. (See my Calculator results, below.)
The Calculator does not provide medical advice. It will not say definitively whether you should or should not get tested. It simply supports your decision-making process by using a mathematical model to determine your relative risk of having or getting COVID-19 - and your risk of spreading it to other people - based on critical bits of information you provide. As my screenshot above demonstrates, your results will advise whether you are (or have been) at HIGHER or LOWER risk of:
Getting COVID-19 over the past seven days
Getting COVID-19 over the next seven days
Spreading COVID-19 to others over the past seven days
Spreading COVID-19 to others over the next seven days
So, what information does the WTT Calculator for Individuals use, and how do those inputs factor into your results?
After more than a year of headlines comparing COVID-19 rates across the US (and around the world), no one should be surprised that location matters. If the rate of COVID-19 is high where you are, it’s more likely that at least some of the people you come in contact with will be infected. That makes your chance of having or getting the virus more likely to be high, even if you don’t come into contact with that many people.
Vaccination is the strongest protection we have against SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). The vaccines’ greatest strength lies in their ability to prevent hospitalizations and death due to the virus, but it also reduces the likelihood that you will become infected with SARS-CoV-2 at all - even in the face of the Delta variant! And if you’re less likely to get COVID-19, you’re less likely to spread it.
Wearing a mask significantly reduces both your risk of getting COVID-19 and the chance that you’ll pass on the virus if you do get infected.
RECENT COVID-19 TEST
If you have recently tested negative for COVID-19, there’s a lower chance that you are infected and able to give the virus to someone else.
DAILY CLOSE CONTACTS
This input accounts for your social-distancing behavior by tallying the number of people with whom you come into close contact on an average day. (Remember, “close contact” has a very specific definition: It’s being within six feet of someone for a total of at least 15 minutes over the course of 24 hours.) The more people you have close contact with, the higher the likelihood that you will be exposed - and once you’re infected, the higher the likelihood you will expose others.
This input builds on the information about your daily close contacts. If you attended a social gathering in the past week, the Calculator assumes that you had twice as many close contacts as you normally do, which makes you more likely to have gotten infected. If you plan to attend a social gathering next week, you’re more likely to infect other people than you otherwise would be.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH THE CALCULATOR
I feel lucky that the prevalence of COVID-19 in my area is low right now. I recently engaged in a larger-than-usual social gathering, which prompted my visit to the Calculator, but working from home and socializing mostly outdoors (in addition to my vaccination status and masking habits) clearly contributed to my low-risk status today. I’ll stay alert for symptoms, but the Calculator helped me feel comfortable with my decision not to get a test just yet.
I plan to visit the site again soon though, because shorter days and colder weather will soon make indoor activities more enticing. I may also use the Calculator to consider this season’s party invitations, and I’ll most definitely check back as I coordinate holiday travel and schedule visits to family and friends.
I found the WTT Calculator for Individuals to be a useful tool. I hope that you do too. If you do, follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter plus visit our Connect page to receive news, updates, and more. And don’t forget to tell your friends!