As we all adapt to the unprecedented times brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, we face a lot of uncertainty about the future each day. But one thing we do know is how COVID-19 testing works, and we want to share this information with you to help you feel empowered and informed as we navigate these times.
In many parts of the country, everyone is encouraged to get a COVID-19 test. In some spots where testing sites have long lines and the healthcare system is overwhelmed, asymptomatic people are asked to wait to get tested so people with symptoms can be tested first.
If you’re experiencing symptoms or you’d like to find out more about testing, start by calling your healthcare provider. It’s important not to walk-in to your doctor’s office before calling to avoid exposing others.
First, call your doctor:
If you call your Florida healthcare provider to arrange for COVID-19 testing, they will ask you the following questions to help determine your need for testing:
- Did you have close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and are experiencing symptoms?
- Are you located in an area where there is confirmed community spread?
- Are you experiencing unexplained respiratory illness that requires hospitalization?
- Have you traveled to or from an affected geographic area with community transmission in the last 14 days and have a fever or symptoms of lower respiratory illness?
If you answer yes to any of those questions, you will be tested. Even if you answer no to all of those questions, you may still be tested in some cases at the discretion of your healthcare provider.
Remember: it’s important to book an appointment for coronavirus testing rather than showing up without one. In some cases, you may be turned away, and in other cases, wait times will be incredibly long without an appointment.
Whether you’re asymptomatic or you’re displaying signs of COVID-19, the testing process is very similar and we’re going to explain it in detail today.
So, let’s get started!
COVID-19 testing: What to expect
Community-based testing sites
If you visit a community-based testing site, here are a few of the expectations and guidelines you’ll need to follow:
- You must arrive in a personal vehicle. There are some pedestrian testing sites, but most COVID-19 testing is done on a drive-through basis.
- The air conditioning in your vehicle must work
- All people in the vehicle must be seated next to an operating window.
- All passengers must remain inside their vehicles from arrival to departure.
- A maximum of five people per vehicle who need testing is enforced.
What to expect before the test
Now, before the testing begins, here are a few things you can expect:
- Your vehicle will be greeted and instructed by personnel in full medical protective gear.
- Instructions will include being told to remain in the vehicle for the duration of the entire COVID-19 testing process
- Your temperature will be checked using a no-touch thermometer.
Questions you will be asked
The medical personnel will ask you a few questions before you’re tested, including:
- They will ask to see Photo ID with your current address. Usually, you’ll be instructed to place it on your dashboard.
- Everyone will be tested regardless of insurance coverage, but you will still be asked for your health insurance card if you have one. If you don’t have one, there is still no out-of-pocket cost at Florida community-based testing sites.
- You may also be asked if you’re a healthcare facility employee or first responder and you’ll be asked to display ID/badge if applicable.
Now, once it’s time to receive your actual COVID-19 test, here’s how it will work.
The COVID-19 testing process
- A healthcare provider in personal protective equipment, often a nurse, will provide you with instructions and answer any questions you may have.
- You will be asked to blow your nose with a tissue that’s provided to you. You will need to dispose of the tissue on your own.
- A soft nasal swab, similar to a cotton ear cleaner but longer, will be inserted deep into your nose to gather the necessary sample. It may tickle and feel slightly uncomfortable, but this part lasts less than a minute. Afterward, you may feel like you need to sneeze.
- After the test, you’ll be asked to move to the final station.
- At the next station, you’re given information to take with you on what to do while you wait for your test results. Keep this instruction sheet until you get your test result.
- You will drive out of the community-based testing site.
Be sure to follow the instructions on the paper you receive at the community-based COVID-19 testing site. You will also want to continue monitoring and recording your symptoms.
Processing times and COVID-19 testing labs
Currently, the Florida Department of Health has three labs open in Jacksonville, Miami, and Tampa. They are working hard to continue providing results as quickly as possible. As of August 2020, most test results take between 7-10 days. It’s important to remain patient during this time. The health department also reminds those who are tested that calling for their results will not expedite the process.
If you test positive, you’ll receive a phone call explaining your next steps. There is an automated system in place for many counties that notifies you of a negative test result.
There are no age limits or restrictions for testing, but minors must be accompanied by an authorized adult.
Things to remember
Keep in mind, at COVID-19 testing sites do not have bathrooms for public use. Use the bathroom at home before your test, and remember the wait times may be long.
What about COVID-19 antibodies testing?
COVID-19 testing does not test for antibodies. The test for an active case of coronavirus will not tell you if you have antibodies to the virus. Instead, you’ll need a COVID-19 antibodies test. You are eligible for this test if you DO NOT have symptoms of COVID-19.
An antibodies test is a blood test that helps determine if you have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus and may have developed an immunity. It’s used for people who want to know if they have been exposed and may possibly be immune to the virus. The antibodies typically appear two weeks or later after exposure to the virus.
Anyone who is not sick can be tested for antibodies at Restore Health Urgent Care. If you are sick, call us so that we can take full precautions and arrange for you to get regular COVID-19 testing.
How much does it cost?
With insurance, the antibodies TEST IS FREE with an office visit. During the office visit, we will also make sure you don’t have a fever or other signs of current infection and check your overall health. Then, we run the test.
If you do not have insurance, you can still take the test. We charge an office visit to make sure you are qualified for the test. The test is billed to you by Quest with a current price of $55.
If you have symptoms of COVID19, the antibodies test is not appropriate to confirm this.
If you do have symptoms of COVID-19, please call us at (321) 312-4580, ext. 4. We will talk to you about your symptoms and help you get tested for COVID-19.
Contact Restore Health Urgent Care in Palm Bay, FL.
In addition to COVID-19 antibodies testing, we provide a comprehensive range of urgent care services. With on-site laboratory services, digital imaging, and X-rays, we use the most current technology to treat your entire family–usually within 15 minutes of check-in!