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Arizona doctors recommend PCR COVID-19 testing ahead of Christmas

COVID-19 test
Posted at 6:17 PM, Dec 19, 2021

PHOENIX — Arizona health officials reported 2,745 new COVID-19 cases and three additional deaths Sunday.

With Christmas just around the corner, ABC15, KGUN 9's sister station wanted to know how accessible it can be to find a COVID test.

“If it feels like things have been progressing rapidly, it's because omicron is spreading very rapidly," explains Dr. Natasha Bhuyan, family physician and regional medical director at One Medical.

And with the spread, doctors suggest getting tested for COVID-19 before spending time with loved ones this week.

Dr. Carmen Hill-Mekoba, chief nursing officer at Embry Health, says you need to get tested first, “So that you can celebrate in confidence that you are negative and aren't spreading any sort of virus to your friends and family.”

Dr. Bhuyan says, “If you can get access to rapid testing, they're a great tool to use before holiday gatherings but just having access to them, it might be a crunch.”

Embry Health says they have 90 to 100 locations across the Valley to get tested. Some Embry locations have rapid testing, but Dr. Hill-Mekoba suggests getting a PCR test.

“In terms of the level of specificity and sensitivity of testing, you probably will want to get a PCR test and you want to do that in the next day or two to be sure that you're well ahead of Christmas.”

ABC15 Reporter Christine Stanwood asked Dr. Hill-Mekoba if Embry Health has experienced any delays with COVID testing or a higher demand for tests this year.

"We've had a higher demand, but the thing is, is that we have our own laboratories, and we also contract with two major laboratories who had the volume and the equipment to help us so that we can expedite results pretty quickly," Dr. Hill-Mekoba said.

If you can’t get your hands on a COVID test before seeing family, Dr. Bhuyan encourages outside gatherings.

If that’s not possible, doctors recommend wearing a mask, especially if you’re around someone who is unvaccinated or vulnerable.

To find a COVID-19 test, click here.