Most Americans do not get COVID-19 test

Dec. 11, 2020

A new Quest Diagnostics Health Trends study found that 3 out of 4 Americans who believed they needed a COVID-19 test (74 percent) chose not to get one, or delayed getting one, primarily due to concerns about exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, according to a press release.

The nationally representative survey was conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of Quest Diagnostics between November 10-12, 2020, among 2,050 U.S. adults. Quest said the survey is believed to be the first to evaluate attitudes about COVID-19's impact on medical care and testing since the recent fall-winter wave of COVID-19 cases began to sweep across the United States.

The findings suggest large numbers of Americans are putting off medical care they may need – including COVID-19 diagnostic lab tests as well as preventative and chronic care – due to fears and other barriers.

The primary reason Americans chose not to get a COVID-19 test was concern about exposure to the virus (30 percent); with others citing that they thought it was very unlikely they had COVID-19 (21 percent); concerns over having to quarantine while waiting for results or if they were positive (15 percent); and cost (15 percent).

A larger proportion of Hispanic/Latinx adults (83 percent), compared Whites/non-Hispanic (72 percent) and Blacks (72 percent), chose to avoid or delayed getting a diagnostic COVID-19 test when they believed they needed one.

Worries about exposure to the virus are at the top of the list of reasons why U.S. adults have avoided or delayed in-person health care (53 percent), but many of them also recognize that forgoing this care has now led to other health problems, like greater stress about a health condition (31 percent), delayed treatment (23 percent) or diagnosis (18 percent) and worsening symptoms (17 percent).

Over a third of Americans do not plan to resume attending in-person medical treatments and appointments until the pandemic is under better control (39 percent) or until a vaccine is available (33 percent). One in two Americans (51 percent) said that only a severe illness or injury would motivate them to seek in-person medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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