Facts About COVID-19 Testing:
- There are two different components to testing:
- Collecting a sample from a patient.
- Testing the sample, often requiring sending the collected sample to an approved laboratory for testing.
- Collection of a sample typically involves swabbing the patient’s mouth, nose, and/or sinus.
- Sample collection is the primary focus for the healthcare facilities. Many providers in the region must send samples to offsite labs for COVID-19 testing.
- Commercial laboratories now have testing capability; however, there are still challenges that limit the speed of returning results to patients.
- The Prince William Health District is NOT offering COVID-19 testing, as they are not a primary health care service. Their role is to investigate and monitor county residents who are confirmed via lab testing and to conduct “contact investigations” to identify additional people who came in close contact with individuals to help stop the spread of the disease.
What You Should Do:
- If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and you are concerned you’ve been exposed, you should call your health care provider for medical advice and follow these CDC guidelines. Your doctor will evaluate your health and determine if you need testing. DO NOT go to your doctor’s office unannounced. Very specific infection control protocols must be in place prior to your arrival; and, if your doctor facilitates a test for you at a lab or hospital, you must follow their directions specifically so that infection control protocol is appropriate.
- If your health care provider declines to test you for COVID-19, it may be because they don’t believe testing is warranted in your situation based on their best clinical judgment. Your health care provider may also decline testing because they do not have the materials to do such testing in the office. In that case, ask your provider if they can refer you to one of their affiliated health care facilities where they will complete an assessment and you may be tested.
- If you are sick with symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough or shortness of breath) and either have a positive lab test or have been directed by your health care provider to isolate at home, please continue self-isolation at home until:
- At least 10 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared AND
- You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (three full days with no fever and no use of medicine to reduce fever) AND
- Other symptoms have gone away or improved
- You should NOT go to any emergency room unless it is an emergency, for example, you are having difficulty breathing. If you need to go to the ER, and you have symptoms plus a known exposure, you must call ahead to ensure proper infection control protocols are in place prior to your arrival.
Please follow the basic preventative measures recommend by the Centers for Disease Control, such as frequent hand washing, wearing a face covering, avoiding crowds and staying at least 6 feet away from other people.
The symptoms for COVID-19 are similar to those for influenza or other respiratory illnesses and may include:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
This list does not include all possible symptoms. The CDC will continue to update this list as we all learn more about COVID-19.
These symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus. Currently, those at elevated risk of exposure are:
- Close contacts of persons with COVID-19
- Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19
- Travelers returning from affected international or domestic locations, with level of risk dependent on where they traveled.
Call 911 if you have a medical emergency: If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Notify the operator that you have or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a facemask before medical help arrives.
Emergency warning signs include*:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.