A viral test shows if you currently have COVID-19. The test should only last about 10 seconds. A healthcare professional usually swabs the back of your nasal passage with a tool similar to a cotton swab.
An antibody test
, also known as a serology test, shows if you already had
COVID-19. For an antibody test, a healthcare professional will draw blood to detect antibodies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
guidelines show that currently there is not enough information to determine if people who recover from COVID-19 can be infected again, or if antibodies prevent it.
When should I consider either type of testing?
Not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19, according to the CDC. They recommend viral testing for people who have COVID-19 symptoms or have had:
- Close contact (within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or more) with someone confirmed to have COVID-19.
- Referrals or requests for testing from a healthcare professional or local or state health department.
Avoiding contact with other people, including those living with you, self-quarantining, and isolating at home while you wait for your test results are recommended by the CDC. Follow the CDC guidelines
and the guidelines your healthcare or public health professional gives you.
The CDC recommends antibody testing for those individuals who:
- Showed COVID-19 symptoms in the past, but were never tested.
- Previously tested positive for COVID-19 and are currently scheduled to have a medical procedure.
- Already had COVID-19 and now want to donate plasma, the part of your blood with antibodies, to help treat others who have more serious cases.
Ask your doctor or healthcare professional whether you should be tested and where to go for antibody testing. Visit your state or local health department websites to see if antibody testing is available near you.
How can I find a COVID-19 viral testing location?
- CVS, Kroger, and Ralphs are examples of retail health clinics. Visit one in your plan's network. They offer a convenient way to have a COVID-19 test.
- Community-based sites offer COVID-19 tests. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website allows you to find a testing location in your area.
- Schedule a COVID-19 test with your doctor. If you decide to visit your doctor for a COVID-19 test, ask them to work with testing labs like Eurofins, Boston Heart Diagnostics, Fulgent Genetics, and Invitae. Labs such as these offer high-quality, low-cost testing services.
- Use this tool or the Sydney Health mobile app to search for a testing location near you.
Besides testing, how can I continue to be proactive?
Avoiding close contact with others and going for testing when necessary are significant steps you can take to help stop the spread of COVID-19.