Why is testing important?
Testing helps identify those who have COVID-19 so they can stay home (isolate) and not spread the disease to others. Testing helps healthcare professionals understand how many people have COVID-19 within our community. Testing also helps prepare our hospitals for potential COVID-19 admissions and helps our local health departments conduct contact tracing to prevent future spread of the virus.
Who needs to be tested?
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone known to have COVID-19, you can get tested. Exposure is close contact (less than 6 feet), for more than 15 minutes, with someone who has COVID-19 (with or without a mask).
Do I need a test if I think I may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19?
No, but you DO need to stay home for 14 days (quarantine) whether you get tested or not. Even if you get a negative test result, you still need to stay home for 14 days.
What should I do if I have been exposed?
Stay home for 14 days after exposure and maintain social distance (at least 6 feet) from others. Make sure to self-monitor for symptoms. Symptoms vary from person to person – they can include a lack of energy, loss of appetite, or loss of taste or smell. Even if you get tested and have a negative result, you need to stay home for 14 days.
If I have a negative test after being exposed, do I still need to stay at home?
Yes! The incubation time for COVID-19 is often several days from exposure to symptom onset. This means it can take days for the symptoms of the disease to develop. A negative test on day 2, 3, or 4 does not mean a person will not develop symptoms on day 11, 12, 13, or even 14. Also, some infected people never develop symptoms. All contacts of a case of COVID-19 need to quarantine at home for 14 days from the last day of exposure to the virus.
If I am an employer, should I let a person who was exposed to COVID-19 return to work if they have a negative test result?
No. A negative test does not mean that a person in quarantine should return to work without staying at home for the full 14 days. Symptoms can develop anytime within the 14-day incubation time, so a negative test on day 2, 3, or 4 does not mean a person will not develop symptoms on day 11, 12, or even 14. All contacts of a case of COVID-19 need to quarantine at home for 14-days from the last day of exposure to the virus.
Why do I need to wait 72 hours after exposure to get a test?
This gives the virus enough time to build up in your system enough to show up in a test result.
How often do I need to be tested?
This depends on your symptoms, advice from your primary care doctor, or if a test is required by your employer before returning to work. According to the CDC, there is NO reason to retest within 90 days (3 months) of positive COVID-19 test. Many people can “shed” viral particles that are not infectious for some time.
Do children need to be tested?
Children of any age should be tested if they are experiencing signs and symptoms of COVID-19 or are considered high risk.
How does testing work?
Nasopharyngeal swabbing (nose/throat) is most widely used. The technician will put at 6-inch cotton swab up both sides of your nose and move it around for about 10-15 seconds. It will not hurt, but it might be uncomfortable. They will send the swab to a lab to test the material from inside your nose and throat.
Will it hurt? What are some tips to prepare for the test?
Come prepared to fill out a form with your personal information and know that collecting the sample may be uncomfortable but will only take a few seconds.
Where can I take a test?
Ask your primary care doctor which testing locations they connect with for results. If you do not have a primary care doctor, there are many pop-up testing sites around the area providing testing free of charge. Most public health departments have pop-up site dates, locations, and times listed on their website and social media accounts.
How do I get my results?
Depending on where you take a test, results may come to you through the mail, through a phone call, or from your primary care doctor. After your sample is taken, it is important to ask how your test site communicates results.
When will I receive results?
Results can usually be obtained in less than a week, but if the testing lab has received a very large number of samples to test, it can be delayed beyond a week.
What are the different types of tests for COVID-19?
- Swab Test (PCR) – Can detect active infection with the most accuracy. Directly detects the presence of the virus’ genetic material. Nose/throat swab, can be uncomfortable. Testing results can take a few days to a week to return. This test is appropriate for those who have symptoms of COVID-19 or have knowingly been exposed.
- Antibody Test – This test is to see if you had COVID-19 in the past, but can also be positive if you are currently infected. Indirectly detects viral infections by measuring the immune response to the virus. This test requires a blood sample. Testing results can take a few days to a week to return. This test is appropriate if you have had COVID-19 and recovered.
- Antigen Test – Designed for rapid detection of the virus in an active infection. Detect specific proteins on the surface of the virus. This test uses a nose/throat swab and can be uncomfortable. Testing results can take a few days to a week to return. This test is appropriate if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have knowingly been exposed.
What happens if I receive a negative result?
A negative result means that the virus that causes COVID-19 was not found in your sample. In the early or late stages of infection, it is possible that a low concentration of the virus will not be detected. Even with a negative result it is important to wear a mask in public, avoid close contact indoors with individuals outside your home and wash your hands frequently. If you receive negative results and are still under quarantine because you were a close contact to a confirmed case, you must remain in quarantine for the entire 14 days. You can become infectious at any time during the quarantine period.
What happens if I receive a positive result?
You may be contacted by your health care provider or by your local public health department. It is important to communicate with public health. Their job is to help prevent the spread of the virus. Public Health will ask you about who you were around and where you went so that they can identify others at risk of getting COVID-19. They will never ask you for sensitive personal information such as bank information or passwords. If you receive a call from a local health department – please tell the truth – you can directly impact the safety of your community and of your loved ones.
Depending on your local health department’s capacity – contact tracing may take time. It is important to stay home so you do not get others sick if you receive a positive result. All contacts of a case of COVID-19 need to quarantine at home for 14 days from the last day of exposure to the virus.
Where can I find more information on COVID-19?
- Indiana – coronavirus.in.gov
- Kentucky – kycovid19.ky.gov
- Ohio – coronavirus.ohio.gov
- United States – cdc.gov/coronavirus
- Butler County – health.bcohio.us
Information provided by the Butler County General Health District