Should you be tested for COVID-19? Coronavirus Testing Options and Guidelines
Many states, including Minnesota, now offer expanded access to COVID-19 testing. Testing is vital – both because it helps individuals know if they have the coronavirus and because it helps everyone keep an eye on the pandemic’s progress.
But how do you know if you personally, need to be tested for COVID-19? If you have symptoms or think you were exposed to the coronavirus, what are your options?
We’ve put together a simple guide to COVID-19 testing to help you choose the right care.
How do you know if you should be tested for COVID-19?
Generally, if you don’t have COVID-19 symptomsOpens in new window, you probably don’t need to be tested. The reverse is also true: If you do have symptoms, you should be tested.
However, testing is still recommended even for some people who do not have symptoms. This includes if your doctor recommended COVID-19 testing, if you’ve recently attended a large gathering or event, if travel plans require it, or you’ve had close contact (within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more) with someone who tested positive.
Have COVID-19 symptoms? Here are your testing options.
Option 1: Online care and recommendations for COVID-19 testing
If you would like help managing COVID-19 symptoms including a treatment plan with nurse practitioner support – Virtuwell is here to help.
We’ll ask a few simple questions about your symptoms and determine whether you need a COVID-19 test. If you do, we’ll help you schedule a drive-up COVID-19 test appointment at a HealthPartners or Park Nicollet clinic that’s offering tests.
Option 2: Seek in-person care and testing (for severe symptoms)
If you have severe COVID-19 symptomsOpens in new window, you should go to the nearest urgent care or emergency center for evaluation and treatment. In these cases, don’t wait for a COVID-19 test before getting care.
Think you were exposed to COVID-19 but don’t have any symptoms? Quarantine.
Stay home and monitor your health
While you may not currently have any COVID-19 symptoms, the best way to protect others is to stay home, quarantine from others, and seek testing.
How fast can COVID-19 symptoms develop?
Symptoms of COVID-19 can develop two to 14 days after exposure to the coronavirus. The average time between infection and first symptoms is five days.
Some people infected with the coronavirus don’t develop any COVID-19 symptoms. However, they can still infect others, which is why it’s important to self-isolate.
Treatment options if you test positive for COVID-19
If you test positive for COVID-19 and have mild symptoms (like most people do), you can treat and manage your symptoms at home.
Most people are able to recover from COVID-19 on their own when they:
- Stay isolated at home. This is the best way to reduce the chances of you spreading illness to others.
- Treat symptoms with over-the-counter medications, like acetaminophen or Mucinex®.
- Use tried-and-true home remedies, like staying hydrated, getting lots of rest and eating regularly.
- Know when to seek care. If mild symptoms begin to worsen or at-home remedies aren’t helping, contact your care provider or start a visit online.
If I test positive for COVID-19, should my family or roommates be tested too?
If the people you live with are also showing symptoms of COVID-19, we recommend they seek care and guidance for testing. Even if they don’t have symptoms, it’s important they follow isolation guidelines and be tested themselves in order to prevent spreading the virus to others.
How Virtuwell can help with COVID-19
As a 24/7 online clinic, we’re always here to help you get the care you need. Whether you’re experiencing symptoms, have concerns about COVID-19 exposure, or need to talk something through with our expert team of nurse practitioners, an online visit with Virtuwell is a good place to start. We’ll ask you questions about your situation, and recommend the best next steps for treatment and testing.
Is the cost of testing included when I have a visit with Virtuwell?
COVID-19 testing costs are separate from your Virtuwell visit. Our drive-up testing services are provided by HealthPartners and Park Nicollet clinics and you can expect a separate Explanation of Benefits from your insurance provider when using their services. COVID-19 testing costs are often covered by insurance plans. If you have any questions about your COVID-19 testing coverage or out-of-pocket costs, we recommend contacting your insurance provider or testing location.
Are there different kinds of COVID-19 testing?
There are two kinds of tests commonly used for COVID-19: diagnostic tests and antibody tests.
Diagnostic tests are most often administered using a nasal swab or a saliva sample. They’re given to both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients and help determine if an active infection is present. Diagnostic testing plays a vital role preventing the spread of COVID-19 by enabling us to detect, isolate, and trace cases of the virus. Tests scheduled through our partners at HealthPartners and Park Nicollet clinics will be completed using a nasal swab test.
Antibody, or serology, testing uses a blood sample to detect previous infections. This helps understand how much of the population has been infected. At this point we don’t know if having antibodies to the virus can protect you from becoming infected with the virus again.
Learning more about COVID-19
Virtuwell follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for coronavirus and COVID-19 prevention, screening and treatment. For the latest updates, visit the CDC’s website.
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