COVID-19 testing

A Cautionary Tale About COVID-19 Testing

A Scripps Ranch man who contracted COVID-19 was tested four times for the novel coronavirus in eight days -- at the end, twice within four hours -- before finally testing positive.

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A Scripps Ranch man has a cautionary tale about coronavirus testing: Pay attention to your symptoms and don't be a super spreader.

Steve Kent, 58, underwent four tests for COVID-19 between Jan. 4-11. He was negative the first three times, then tested positive the fourth time. The last two tests were given within four hours of each other and yielded different results.

“It's the first time I heard where somebody tested … twice, four hours apart, and one yielded negative and one yielded positive,” Kent said. “To me, that’s crazy.”

On Jan. 4, Kent and his daughter got tested after they were exposed to someone who had the coronavirus. His daughter tested positive, but Kent tested negative.

Nevertheless, he had persistent and worsening symptoms.  

“I talked to the doctor and said, ‘What's going on? I’m scared. I’m having these symptoms,’ ” Kent told NBC 7.

Kent said he was told that he may have tested too early, so he tested again three day later, on Jan. 7.

Again, he tested negative. 

“This whole time I’m having symptoms," Kent said. "I’m sleeping in the garage just to make sure I don't catch anything.” 

Kent also said he didn't want to spread whatever was making him feel so ill.

On Jan. 11, with Kent's temperature at 102 degrees, he wound up in the emergency room, and again tested negative for COVID-19. Doctors began treating him for pneumonia. 

But after taking another test, just four hours later, he tested positive for the coronavirus.

“I went on Remdesivir and antibiotics, and eventually I started getting better, but the pain was unbearable,” Kent said

The incubation period for the coronavirus is believed to extend to 14 days, but the median time is four to five days from exposure to onset of symptoms. Kent doesn't know why he had symptoms all along or why two tests within hours of each other yielded different results.

Kent believes that testing is one of the best tools we have right now, but he said people should pay attention to their symptoms, too, and take precautions.

“Just because the test says negative, you know, if you’re going to Vons and Trader Joe’s and doing those kinds of things, you may be a spreader, unbeknownst to you," Kent said. "It's that scary.”

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