A key method in the journey towards reopening the American economy is antibody testing, and there’s a coronavirus map which can help you find out where to get it. The COVID-19 testing site locator map, developed by spatial analytics firm Esri (opens in new tab), is designed to show you the nearest Diagnostic and Antibody Testing Sites to you. It also includes information about your nearest COVID-19 hotline, and department of health services.
Not everyone who has coronavirus shows severe symptoms, but an increased effort in contact tracing and testing is one way of slowing the spread of the virus nationwide.
According to (opens in new tab) New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, “Large-scale antibody testing will help determine the percentage of the population that is now immune to the virus.
"Any plan to start to reopen the economy has to be based on data and testing, and we have to make sure our antibody and diagnostic testing is up to the scale we need so we can safely get people back to work.”
Coronavirus antibodies could protect you from catching the virus again, although according to the CDC this isn’t confirmed. If you test positive for COVID-19 antibodies, it means you have had the virus at some point. Early numbers have suggested that about 15% of people in New York state have antibodies, and many of these people will have been asymptomatic, meaning they did not carry coronavirus symptoms whatsoever.
Do you actually need antibody testing?
Antibody testing could also clear up any uncertainty over whether you have been in contact with someone who has had the virus, or to confirm whether you have had the virus if you’ve had some coronavirus symptoms (opens in new tab) but didn’t consider them severe enough to seek testing.
Before seeking antibody testing, consider if it’s a necessary and suitable choice for you. The CDC emphasizes that “antibodies most commonly become detectable 1-3 weeks after symptom onset, at which time evidence suggests that infectiousness likely is greatly decreased and that some degree of immunity from future infection has developed.” If you are still isolating after having coronavirus symptoms, you may still be contagious, and you won’t have developed antibodies yet even if you have the virus.
Although antibody testing is an important method to help us understand the impact coronavirus has had, the CDC warns that “regardless of whether you test positive or negative, the results do not confirm whether or not you are able to spread the virus that causes COVID-19. Until we know more, continue to take steps to protect yourself and others (opens in new tab).” That means wearing face masks (opens in new tab) and practicing social distancing, as well as being familiar with the latest CDC guidance (opens in new tab) at all times.
There are also coronavirus maps which reveal which stage of the outbreak your county or state is in (opens in new tab), as well as a recent map from Harvard (opens in new tab) mapping the COVID-19 risk in your area. The testing map doesn’t indicate which sites, if any, will be covered by your health insurance company (opens in new tab). For this information, be sure to contact your provider directly.