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Updated FAQs on testing for COVID-19

Wellness | June 22, 2020
CDC COVID-19 test kits
Testing guidelines have been changing. Here are a few updated FAQs on testing for COVID-19.
As with many aspects of this pandemic, new developments take place almost daily. Particularly in the area of testing for COVID-19, procedures vary from state to state or community by community.
 
Below are questions and answers based on the current testing and protocol guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state public health agencies.
 

Does PeaceHealth provide COVID-19 testing?

Yes, PeaceHealth offers COVID-19 testing. Here’s when testing is required and/or recommended: 
  • If you are admitted to a PeaceHealth hospital — we test all patients for COVID-19 who are admitted to our hospitals regardless of symptoms.
  • If you are scheduled for a procedure at a PeaceHealth hospital — we automatically contact patients for COVID-19 screening prior to the procedure.
  • If you have COVID-19 symptoms— we offer COVID-19 testing in our PeaceHealth Medical Group clinics and urgent care locations. A provider must pre-authorize a test.

Should I be tested for COVID-19?

Not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19. You may need COVID-19 testing if you:
 
  • Have symptoms and are at a higher risk for complications from severe respiratory infections (e.g., you are older than 65, have a chronic medical condition or are immunocompromised).
  • Have symptoms and live in long-term care facilities or other congregate living settings, including prisons and shelters.
  • Have symptoms of COVID-19, such as dry cough, fever and/or shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, new loss of taste or smell, vomiting or diarrhea, and/or sore throat.
  • Are a healthcare worker or first responder.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Patients with COVID-19 have experienced a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. These symptoms may include:
  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
This list is not all possible symptoms. The CDC will continue to update this list as more is known about COVID-19.
 
Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. It is important to keep in mind that many people with these symptoms may have a viral respiratory illness such as a common cold or flu, and not the novel coronavirus causing this illness.
 
Check with your local public health agency for more information: Alaska, Oregon and Washington.
 
Remember, most people who have the virus recover at home and don’t need to be hospitalized.
 

Who does not need COVID-19 testing?

There are several reasons you might not need to be tested. If you meet any of the following criteria, testing is not necessary:
 
  • You are asymptomatic – meaning you don’t have any symptoms.
  • If you have mild symptoms and testing won’t change the management of your illness.
  • If you feel well but have reason to believe you’ve been exposed to the virus. You should self-quarantine in this case.

What does the COVID-19 test cost?

In most circumstances, the COVID-19 test should be completely free. Many states, including Alaska, Oregon and Washington, have required that all insurers waive co-pays and deductibles related to COVID-19 testing.
 
However, you may receive a bill from your insurance company if you:
  • Are tested at a facility outside your health insurance network.
  • Receive treatment for another condition during your visit for a COVID-19 test.
You do not need insurance to get tested for COVID-19. However, you will need a scheduled appointment for COVID-19 testing.
 

What can you expect when being tested for COVID-19?

The screening test for COVID-19 requires collecting a specimen from your nose. Initial diagnostic testing is done through a nasopharyngeal culture (nasal swab). Nasal swab tests are quick and painless. 
 
A healthcare provider will gently place a collection swab into your nostril and rotate the swab 2-3 times to collect the specimen. This takes about 10 seconds. Your sample then goes to a lab for testing. The test can detect the coronavirus RNA to determine a positive or negative result.
 

When will I get my COVID-19 test results?

The turnaround time for results varies significantly from an hour to several days depending on the type of test and where it is performed. You will receive a call from your primary care provider’s office with results once they are available. While you wait for your test results, maintain home isolation to help protect other people in your home and community.
 

What if my COVID-19 test results are positive?

If your test is positive, you should stay home except to receive medical care, if needed. You should call your doctor before going to the doctor’s office. You should avoid taxis, public transportation or ride-sharing services when going to receive care. You should wear a mask or cloth face covering. 
 
If you’re home, stay away from others. You should remain in a “sick room” to limit the spread of the virus throughout your home and use a separate bathroom if possible.
 
Continue to wash your hands frequently and do not share items with others. Your caregivers should sanitize all surfaces daily and carefully wash any items you touch, such as plates or silverware, pillows, remote controls and doorknobs. Read how to recover from COVID-19 at home.
 

What if my COVID-19 test results are negative?

A negative test does not mean you will not develop symptoms later. You should practice all the same protective measures you were practicing before, including frequent handwashing and social distancing.
 

Does PeaceHealth provide antibody testing?

Yes, PeaceHealth is offering COVID-19 antibody testing to patients through PeaceHealth Medical Group following a visit with a provider. Also known as serology testing, COVID-19 antibody testing looks to see whether your immune system has responded to the infection. It’s important to know that even if the body has produced antibodies against the virus, it is not yet proven that these antibodies can fight off future infections of the COVID-19 virus, and if even if they can, for how long. Therefore, it’s important to continue to follow all infection prevention measures such as wearing a mask, hand washing and social distancing even if you have a positive result. 
 
Source:  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/testing.html
 

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