Diagnosis & Tests
Testing is an important way to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested so that you can avoid infecting others.
A COVID-19 test is important when:
- There has been contact with someone who has COVID-19 and
- 5 days has passed since it happened
- Workplaces, school, or healthcare sites require screening
- Travel occurs, before leaving and when arriving home
- A healthcare professional or public health official asks for it
Types of COVID-19 Tests
Viral tests – This type of test will tell whether a person has an active infection at the time of the test. There are two main types:
- Laboratory Test
- Sample can either be a nasal swab or saliva
- Results usually in 1-3 days
- Results are reliable for people with and without symptoms
- No follow-up test required
- Common example: PCR test
- Rapid Test
- Sample is usually a nasal swab
- Results usually in 15-30 minutes
- Results may be less reliable for people without symptoms
- Follow-up test may be required
- Common example: Antigen test
Antibody test – This blood test may be able to tell if there has been a past COVID-19 infection. This test may also be called a “serology test.”
What Does a Negative Test Result Mean?
If you receive a negative result, that means that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was not found in your sample. A negative test does not completely rule out infection.
For the most current information, you should visit the CDC site for advice on how to handle test results because advice changes along with new information.
Last Updated October 2022
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