COVID TESTING RESOURCES
When COVID-19 testing is widely available, LDH recommends testing for 1) individuals experiencing symptoms and 2) those who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. LDH stresses that testing alone is not a strategy to stay safe and protect others against Omicron and provides the following recommendations for people who are unable to be tested:
Individuals experiencing COVID-like symptoms:
Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home. If you are sick:
- Stay home. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care. Do not leave your home for at least 5 days, except to get medical care. If you are fever free and you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving, you may leave home after 5 days, but you must wear a well-fitting mask when around others for an additional 5 days.
- Take care of yourself. Get rest and stay hydrated. Take over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, to help you feel better.
- If you have an emergency warning sign (trouble breathing; persistent pain or pressure in the chest; new confusion; inability to wake or stay awake; pale, gray or blue-colored skin, lips or nail beds), seek emergency care immediately.
- Stay in touch with your doctor. Older patients and individuals who have underlying medical conditions or are immunocompromised should contact their physician early in the course of even mild illness.
- Tell your close contacts that they may have been exposed to COVID-19.
Individuals who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19:
The recommendation to test after exposure is to allow individuals who test positive to isolate quickly and prevent additional spread. Tests are a snapshot in time, and one negative test after exposure does not mean you will not test positive later. Individuals who have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 need to follow the most up-to-date quarantine guidance below, regardless of a negative test result or in the event they cannot access a test.
If you develop symptoms, get a test and stay home.
Frequently Asked Questions
It has been several days since I was tested. How long should I have to wait to get my test results?
As of mid-January, this is an unfortunate but common occurrence, as many labs cannot maintain short turnaround times as they try to keep up with the incredible demand for testing. There are any manner of issues that might cause a delayed result:
- The testing infrastructure simply cannot keep up with the current demand, which far exceeds anything we have experienced in the previous 4 surges
- Human error inputting incorrect spellings of names or incorrect birthdates Transportation of samples to out-of-state labs has been challenging due to staffing shortages
- Labs often do not have adequate customer service infrastructure to handle the number of calls they are receiving right now
Who should get tested?
People who have symptoms of COVID-19.
People who have come into close contact with someone with COVID-19 should be tested to check for infection.
Fully vaccinated people should be tested 5–7 days after their last exposure.
People who are not fully vaccinated should get tested immediately when they find out they are a close contact. If their test result is negative, they should get tested again 5–7 days after their last exposure or immediately if symptoms develop.
People not fully vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccine who are prioritized for expanded community screening for COVID-19.
People not fully vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccine who have been asked or referred to get testing by their school, workplace, healthcare provider, state, tribal, local external icon or territorial health department.
What are the different types of tests?
Molecular and antigen tests are types of diagnostic tests that can detect if you have an active COVID-19 infection. Samples for diagnostic tests are typically collected with a nasal or throat swab, or saliva collected by spitting into a tube.
PCR Test - Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test for COVID-19 is a molecular test that looks for the genetic material of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, from a sample collected from your upper airways. Scientists use the PCR technology on the sample they collect from you to make copies of specific genes present in SARS-CoV-2 in order to detect if you have COVID-19.
Rapid Antigen Test - Antigen tests are designed to detect the presence of a specific particle on the outside of the virus, known as the ‘antigen.’ Presence of the antigen implies active viral infection. Antigen tests are typically performed on nasopharyngeal or nasal swab specimens. There are several antigen tests currently authorized by the FDA. These include point-of-care, laboratory-based, and self-tests. Examples include BinaxNOW, QuickVue, iHealth, and FlowFlex.
Rapid Molecular Test - Rapid molecular tests are similar to PCR tests in that they detect the genetic material of the virus SARS-CoV-2 in order to determine if you have COVID-19. However, they use a slightly different technology to detect that genetic material which allows it to run in point-of-care (CLIA waived) settings at room temperature.
CUE tests are an example of rapid molecular test that can be conducted from a nasal swab sample from a patient. Results are displayed directly on a connected mobile smart device in about 20 minutes via the Cue Health App.
How long does it take to get results?
For a PCR test, usually take 24 to 72 hours to get your result.
For a Rapid Antigen test, you will get your result after only 10 to 20 minutes.
For a Rapid Molecular test, expect it to take 15 to 20 minutes to get your result.
What should I do while waiting for testing results?
It can take several days for test results to come back. The place that did your testing will get the results to you. More information...