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HUNTINGTON — As the nation dives into flu season amid the pandemic, health officials say it’s more important than ever to take advantage of free COVID-19 testing.

Don’t wait until you experience shortness of breath or a high fever before getting tested for COVID-19, cautions West Virginia State Health Officer Dr. Ayne Amjad.

Local health departments are reporting finding positive COVID-19 patients who say their only symptoms were allergy-like, Amjad said last Wednesday during the governor’s press briefing.

“It’s not just fever, cough, shortness of breath that people are reporting,” Amjad said. “We are also noticing people have symptoms such as allergies or body aches or general symptoms of just not feeling well. We encourage everyone out there, if they are having other symptoms like loss of taste or smell, or allergy symptoms that aren’t your normal, to get tested.”

Amjad said testing will also help catch “super spreaders,” who often don’t have any symptoms but infect up to 75% of others.

Though it is fall, allergies are still at play. Ragweed pollen is high in the Charleston area, according to The Weather Channel. Flu season is about to begin in force as well.

COVID, flu, the common cold and allergies all have similar symptoms. Early in the pandemic, a person’s travel history helped determine if they had COVID, but now that it is prevalent in all communities, it’s tougher to tell the difference.

“If you have any symptoms at all, please err on the side of caution and stay home and away from others,” a Lawrence County (Ohio) Health Department press release stated Thursday. “Consider having a COVID test. Fever is a good indicator of viral infections, but it’s not always a symptom. If you do have a fever, stay home until you are fever-free for 24 hours without use of a fever-reducing medicine. If you have other symptoms (sore throat, cough, runny nose or anything else), please stay home until symptoms are better.”

Reporter Taylor Stuck can be reached at tstuck@hdmediallc.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook @TaylorStuckHD.