WELLINGTON, Fla. — An emergency room doctor from Wellington Regional Medical Center is stressing the need to stay vigilant about coronavirus protection.
"We are finding that a significant number of people want to know if they have been exposed to the virus in the past," said Dr. Adam Bromberg, medical director of Wellington Physicians Urgent Care.
Bromberg says the overall population that has been exposed to coronavirus likely to be a lot higher than expected.
"We have large numbers of people that have antibodies to this disease that didn't have significant symptoms and didn't know they had the disease," said Bromberg.
Wellington Physicians Urgent Care at Palomino Park is one of several facilities across the state offering COVID-19 antibody testing.
Results from the blood test show the presence of antibodies against the COVID-19 virus and can be a reflection of potential immunity.
However, doctors warn that the presence of antibodies cannot be used to determine if a person has a current infection with the virus.
"It is important to remember that a positive result means that a person could possibly have immunity to COVID-19, but it does guarantee immunity," Bromberg said. "As with any test result, it is essential that a person speaks with his or her physician, and there is a small chance that the results can lead to a false negative or false positive."
A negative result means that the test did not find the presence of COVID-19 antibodies and is an indication that the patient has not had the virus.
It also means that there is no possible protective immunity from antibodies.
Medical professionals also say it's possible for a patient to test negative if currently infected with COVID-19, but not displaying symptoms or it is early in the disease process.
A positive test should not replace the existing recommendations by the CDC of social distancing, wearing a mask, frequent hand washing, limited touching of a person's face or self-isolation if exposed to the virus.
Antibody tests are covered by many insurance companies.
Wellington Physicians Urgent Care at Palomino Park offers antibody tests for $99, but the cost is covered by many insurance companies.
The Palm Beach County Health Department is also offering free antibody tests by appointment at the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach.
According to the CDC, it is not yet known if people who recover from COVID-19 can get infected again.
CDC and partners are investigating to determine if a person can get sick with COVID-19 more than once.
Until more information is available, doctors encourage everyone follow the guidelines to minimize risk of exposure.