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COVID-19 Testing continues through local health care networks

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, two local health care juggernauts are offering testing and care.

According to an email from Samuel Kennedy, corporate communications director at St. Luke’s University Health Care Network, COVID-19 testing for active cases and for antibodies are available through the health care network.

The tests are offered in consultation with a doctor.

Antibody tests, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, check blood for indications of a past infection with the virus responsible for COVID-19.

Antibodies, according to the CDC, are disease-specific proteins that help to fight an infection. Scientists and researchers have yet to determine if the presence of antibodies prevents re-infection in the case of COVID-19.

The CDC cautions that an antibody test might not show if a person is infected at the time of the test because the body can take up to three weeks to create antibodies.

Whether COVID-19 is active in a person is determined through viral tests. Such tests identify the virus by taking samples from the respiratory system, often using a swab from the nose.

“Patients interested in a test should consult their doctor or call the SLUHN COVID-19 hotline (1-866-STLUKES, option 7) about the need for a test,” Kennedy wrote.

“The patient will then be referred to a testing site. Our testing sites include tent locations outside our Care Now urgent care centers,” Kennedy added.

Lehigh Valley Health Network also offers testing at various locations including several of its Express Care locations.

Testing for the active virus as well as antibody tests are available.

“Antibody testing, however, is recommended to be performed in partnership with a patient’s primary care clinician given the nature of the testing and understanding of results and implications,” Brian Downs, public information officer at LVHN, said by email July 20.

“COVID-19 test results are generally available within one to two days. The antibody test results are available within two to three days,” Downs added.

LVHN offers seven test centers in Lehigh, Northampton, Carbon and Bucks counties.