By Dr. Jesse Greer, Founder of Saguaro Bloom
As we rapidly approach the end of year two of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have a much better grasp of data and research to help inform our decision-making as a community. Although it is challenging to stay up to speed on the latest variants, vaccines, and other mitigation strategies, there is one tool widely available that is not being leveraged to its fullest potential: COVID-19 testing.
While many are solely focused on vaccines and boosters, we are missing a tremendous opportunity to inform Arizonans about the benefits of proactive COVID-19 testing.
At Saguaro Bloom, we aim to be an easy, accessible and in many circumstances, a no out of pocket cost resource for patients in our communities. We are focused on educating the general public about the importance of proactive testing as a way to keep yourself and loved ones safe and healthy.
Testing for the COVID-19 virus remains one of the most effective ways to track the virus and significantly reduce transmission, yet there is a lack of emphasis from public health officials to create and promote a robust COVID-19 testing infrastructure in the state.
COVID-19 testing should be encouraged when someone is ill or exposed to someone with COVID-19. We must also promote testing to give family, friends and co-workers peace of mind as they re-engage in pre-pandemic activities.
Over the past few months, we have witnessed breakthrough cases among the vaccinated population. We are also learning that with time, the efficacy of the vaccine starts to wane. Testing for COVID-19 is the only way to ensure vaccinated individuals are not unknowingly spreading the virus.
Early detection of COVID-19 allows infected individuals to quarantine, drastically reduces spread of the virus to family members and friends, and helps avoid a potential super-spreader event. It is also well known that the available and newly approved treatments for COVID-19 work much better when started in the early stages of the infection. Early detection leads to better outcomes all around.
In addition to mandatory testing for international travel, it is important to utilize proactive testing for domestic air travel, especially during the holidays. Airports and planes are crowded during the holiday season increasing exposure to COVID-19. If your holiday plans include air travel, it is important to get tested 1-3 days prior to your flight. Also be sure to get tested 3-5 days after returning from your trip to verify you are infection free after the festivities.
It’s time for our local leaders to focus on our COVID-19 testing infrastructure and help Arizonans be proactive in managing their health and well-being. We have an incredible and powerful tool that can help us save lives; it’s time for us to use it wisely.
Dr. Jesse Greer is an internal medicine physician, former Green Beret and founder of Arizona-based COVID-19 lab Saguaro Bloom.
About Saguaro Bloom
Founded in July 2020 by Arizonans, Saguaro Bloom Diagnostics LLC is a health technology company based in Scottsdale with operations throughout the Phoenix Metro area. To serve Arizona during the pandemic, Saguaro Bloom created an FDA CLIA-certified, high complexity laboratory with specialized processes and software for high-throughput COVID-19 testing that also provides an exceptional customer experience.