Combination tests support arsenal of protection against winter respiratory viruses

Published Dec. 2, 2022

As several respiratory illnesses circulate simultaneously in Placer County and across the state, the county’s OptumServe testing sites have rolled out combination COVID and Flu A/B tests to help residents stay better informed about their health. Appointments are available online.

Symptomatic patients who are tested at the sites in Roseville and Truckee will receive the combo test free of charge. If positive for COVID, eligible patients can then receive prescription medication onsite as part of the ‘test to treat’ model. COVID medication is most effective when started earlier in the course of disease.

“We have three viruses causing concern and creating some strain on the hospital system right now  – flu, RSV and COVID,” said Placer County interim health officer Dr. Rob Oldham. “Getting a combination test can provide some answers and direction, especially for those most vulnerable. And there are precautions that everyone can take to lessen the likelihood of contracting these viruses.”

Recent data show high levels of flu and RSV activity in Placer and other parts of California, and the county was also moved to the CDC’s ‘medium’ COVID community level this week, signaling increased transmission.

Placer residents most at risk of severe complications – including very young children (particularly for RSV), elderly individuals and those with underlying health conditions – are especially encouraged to get tested. While care can be managed at home in most cases, those with severe or worsening symptoms should consult with a healthcare provider.

Here are some additional tips to stay healthy and avoid disrupting your plans this holiday season:

  1. Stay current with vaccines. Anyone 6 months or older is eligible for flu and COVID vaccines. This year’s flu shot is thought to be a good match for the current strain circulating. Updated COVID boosters, which may offer better protection against Omicron, are also available to those 5 and up. These vaccines can be administered at the same time. Unfortunately, there is not currently a vaccine for RSV.
  2. Be mindful of personal hygiene. Frequently wash your hands and cover your nose when sneezing and your mouth when coughing.
  3. Stay home when sick. Do not go to work, school, or travel – avoid infecting others and rest up to feel better.
  4. Wearing a high-quality mask in indoor spaces, particularly crowds, can help limit the spread of respiratory viruses and offer protection for those most at risk. N95, KN95, and KF94 masks are the most protective. 

“Please be considerate of others this holiday season as you never know what health or other challenges someone may be facing,” said Oldham.