Feel free to drop by

Welcome To COVID-19 Testing! We are so pleased that you have dropped by for COVID-19 testing, for your own health and the health of all those around you. Below you will find information, about the COVID-19 test we will be using, and some useful information about the virus and COVID-19 disease progression.

Testing for anyone

The Office: Dr. Weitzman and his medical practice have been deeply involved in the greater Grand Strand community since arriving here. We feel that it is important for us, as physicians, to personally contribute to our communities to make them better places. Our new community COVID-19 testing program arises from our firm belief in this concept.

We feel that anyone who wants to be tested, to know their current or past COVID-19 infection status, should have easy and fair access to testing. Testing helps everyone know where they are in the process of this outbreak. You could be: Uninfected: so still at risk; Infected: but pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic (possible virus spreader, quarantine, and watchful waiting); Infected: need to begin medical care; OR Was infected: need watchful care for post-COVID-19 complications and actions to avoid post-COVID-19 virus spread.

We believe that the better the information we all have about your COVID-19 health, the better it is for you and our community. 

Knowing the facts

The Virus: Accurate scientific information regarding this Covid virus is a political hot mess in the US, so it is difficult for the non-expert to understand or believe what they are reading and hearing from politicians and medical experts. Here, to the best of our knowledge today (we will adjust if that changes), are the FACTS:

This SARS2 Virus started as a small local outbreak in the industrial city of Wuhan, China sometime in the November-December 2019 time frame. The socially acceptable name for this virus is SARS-CoV2. The virus hopped to humans in Wuhan after passing through a series of other animals – we may never know which ones – and the only reason we even care is that we would like to put a lid on that source.

The Covid Infection & Your Body’s Response to it:

The US has invested billions of dollars in a crash research effort to understand this disease. To date (late June 2020) there have been 28,000 papers published in the six months since this disease emerged – and we are still learning as we go! Right now, here is what we think the facts are:

A) The virus enters the body via the mucous membranes (wet surfaces) of your upper and lower airways (nose, mouth, and lungs), your digestive tract, and your eyes. Like HIV, it can probably also enter through your vagina and rectum during some types of sex. VERY importantly, this virus cannot enter your body through intact skin, so just touching it with your hands or body is not dangerous – unless you then touch any of the above mucous membranes. Don’t touch your face until you have washed your hands very well!

B) Based on the number of viruses that first get into you (your viral exposure load) – and your personal ability to fight the virus that particular day (which changes) – after about 3-5 days our high sensitivity nasopharyngeal swab ‘PCR’ test should turn positive. This means you have a growing (replicating) virus in you.

C) About 7-15 days after the virus begins to replicate – the timing is based on YOUR PERSONAL immune system and how the battle goes – your white blood cells will slowly begin making its first IgM antibodies, and our IgM blood test (serology) will begin to turn positive.

D) About 7 days after that, if still needed, your white blood cells will SWITCH to making the more powerful and virus-specific IgG type of antibodies, and our IgG blood test will slowly begin to turn positive.

E) While you are recovering from COVID-19, your IgM levels (and the cells making it) will peak and then very rapidly disappear, followed by a an even bigger IgG peak – which will then gradually drop over the next 3 months to 30 years – depending on YOUR individual immune system and how severe the COVID-19 affected YOU.

F) This is your IgG immunity. There is another important part of this story, concerning other white blood cells (immune cells) in your body. These cells fought the virus and cleaned up the battlefield afterward, and some of them go into a ‘veteran’s retirement home’ where they will remember how they fought the COVID-19 Battle of 2020.  The more of these memory cells that you make, and the better their retirement home conditions, the better and longer will be your long-term immunity to the virus – a flash-in-the-pan-catch-it again-next-year cure or a semi-permanent immunity.

How to read our COVID-19 tests:

  1. Virus swab +, IgM/IgG negative: You are infected and can be infectious to other people around you.
  2. Virus swab +, IgM +, IgG negative: You are infected, you are likely getting better, but you ARE infectious to other people.
  3. Virus swab +, IgM +, IgG +: You are infected, you are VERY likely infectious to other people, but you are well on your way to getting over this.
  4. Virus swab -, IgM +, IgG +: You are clearing, or have cleared, the VIRUS, you probably aren’t infectious from your respiratory system. CAUTION!: However, if the virus infected your kidneys, guts or testes – you might still be putting out (shedding) virus that could infect others, so you need to practice safe behaviors for at least 6 weeks – the longest time MOST shedders have been tracked. There is always the oddball who sheds longer, so err on the side of caution as you get better.

Virus swabs and blood PCR tests are negative, IgM test is negative, serology tests are positive for strongly virus-killing (neutralizing) IgG antibodies: You are well into your COVID-19 recovery phase, you have good immunity now. You are PROBABLY not infectious, but see the CAUTION above.

How it will affect you in the future

Immunity: This means that if you see this exact virus again, your body will be ready for it – and you will have little or no outward symptoms from your next encounter. For now, we believe most mild to severe COVID-19 survivors will easily clear any near future COViD-19 infection with relative ease, without having noticeable symptoms. If you have only weak symptoms or are entirely asymptomatic, your risk of a future COVID-19 re-infection is much higher. How high? – We don’t know yet. What if the virus changes, will I still be immune? We don’t know yet, but for sure it will be a person-specific, virus-change-specific answer when we get it.

2 Responses

  1. My wife and I tested positive for the Covid virus at Coastal Lab in early October, after being sick with persistent fever and more – with the virus for 2 weeks. We are both in our 70s. I spoke with Dr. Weitzman on the phone and he was very helpful in answering my questions and telling me what to do next.

    My question today –where and when can we get vaccinated? Does your office have solid information relevant to South Carolina and – if your office will be vaccinating, can we get on your list?

    1. We do not have vaccine yet, and have not been given an indication when it will arrive. Only the large organizations with significant resources and direct interactions with the government have been given vaccine in our area. Not true for other areas, but that is how it seems here. As soon as we have vaccine, we will announce it. If you go to the DHEC web site, follow the directions there for signing up. They can give you an appointment. Be patient, the sites are overwhelmed.
      Also, ask for the Moderna vaccine if you have a choice.