There are 2 main types of Coronavirus tests available: the PCR test, antibody test. Each has a different purpose and it is very important that you understand which test is the right fit for you. Read more here!
Standard PCR and Rapid test results may take between 1 and 10 days to be processed and received. If you need results sooner, the rapid test may be the right answer for you.
Coronavirus COVID-19 Rapid Test: What You Need to Know
How does it work?
The rapid test is a PCR test, which detects an active viral infection. For more on how PCR test work, see our article here.
Who should get one?
If you are current experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or you have recently been exposed to someone with COVID-19 you should consider getting a coronavirus test. Some people who may need to get a rapid test instead of a standard test are those who need to return to school or work in a timely manner.
Are rapid tests accurate in detecting COVID-19?
Unfortunately, most COVID-19 test on the market vary in accuracy and specificity. Test can range from 40 to 80 percent effective rate. You should call the site at which you are getting your test to ask the accuracy of their test. In order to get the most accurate test results, you should get tested around 5-7 days after exposure to someone with COVID-19 or while you are experiencing symptoms.
How much do rapid tests cost?
In New York, there are several places to get a standard test for free. The cost of rapid test, however, may vary. Many pharmacies and clinics are offering a rapid test for free or with a small co-pay with most insurance options. Without insurance, however, the cost of these tests can be several hundred dollars. See our article here for COVID-19 testing costs both with and without insurance.
Screen yourself periodically by asking these four questions
According to the Center for Disease Control, the incubation period – the period between you getting infected to showing symptoms is approximately 5 days (median). This means even if you don’t feel sick, it is always good to take precautionary measures and screen yourself periodically:
1. Do you have any of the symptoms below?
Fever (77-98% of cases)
Cough (46-85% of cases)
Fatigue (11-52% of cases)
Shortness of breath (3-33% of cases)
2. Have you or anyone you know come into close contact with a confirmed Corona COVID-19 individual or someone who is getting tested?
3. Are you currenly managing any chronic diseases?
4. Are you a healthcare or public safety worker?
If you answer yes to one or more questions, you have a higher chance of contracting Coronavirus COVID-19
Even if you are a carrier of the coronavirus, symptoms may not always present themselves, as the incubation period can last up to two weeks and some patients never show symptoms. If you are showing signs of coronavirus, take the following steps to mitigate the spread:
Quarantine yourself immediately: minimize exposure with other humans. Self-quarantine and self-isolation are different. The first is for those who have exposure to individuals with confirmed Coronavirus diagnoses. The second is for those with confirmed positive test results. There are three basic principles to self-quarantine: separation, hygiene, and monitoring.
Minimize spread of body secretion: coronavirus is a respiratory illness and it is highly contagious. According to the World Health Organization, wearing a mask is only effective if you also wash your hands frequently. The CDC specifically does not recommend the use of N95 mask for the public, as they are needed by health care professionals. However, it is crucial that you wear another mask or cloth face covering when coming into contact with individuals outside of your household. Wearing a face covering is not a replacement for social distancing.
Contact your state and local public health officials (Department of Health - DOH) immediately. Across the country, there are hotlines set up for Coronavirus. There are limited Human Resources, however, to answer high-volume calls at peak hours. If you have questions, it is generally better to consult with CDC website or the NY Department of Health FAQ website.
Avoid scams! Currently, there are various scams related to Coronavirus treatment, contact the Food and Drug Administration if you are contacted by anyone who claims there is a cure. Lab tests are only available at selected facilities and some companies are manufacturing at-home tests.
Talk to a medical provider and find out where to get tested
While having symptoms is associated with a higher likelihood of having COVID-19, the Department of Health is suggesting that all New Yorkers get a diagnostic COVID-19 test, whether or not they have symptoms. If you have already got a COVID-19 test that came back negative, you should get retested if: you recently developed symptoms of COVID-19, your provider is concerned of recent possible exposure, you work in a nursing home or shelter, or if you are planning on seeing someone who is at high risk.
Go to this link for a comprehensive list of testing facilities in New York City. More generally, testing can be done at the following locations:
Urgent care clinics: these facilities are often staffed with both a medical doctor and a mid-level provider. Selected clinics may be able to collect samples for Coronavirus COV-19 testing if you are a health or public safety worker.
CVS Minute Clinics: at this time, there is not a point-of-care test available for COVID-19 at any locations.
Emegency rooms: only visit the ER if you have exposure history and symptoms. Because there will be a high concentration of sick people, you will have a high risk of cross contagion.
Commercial labs like Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp may be able to carry out COVID-19 testing in the future but you are not able to get tested at this point by going directly to those facilities.
NYC Gov has released a resource to find a testing center. Some locations test for free while others charge a fee. Make sure to call the testing center in advance to find out more about their payment policy.
Some urgent care facilities, such as CityMD, are offering antibody test for individuals who think they may have been previously infected with the virus. However, it is important to note that testing positive for the antibodies for COVID-19 does not necessarily confer immunity to the virus.
Not all COVID-19 patients show the same symptoms, some could experience very mild symptoms during the incubation period. Even during the onset (peak), people with compromised immune system and elders could feel sicker compared to young healthy adults.
What to expect when getting tested for Coronavirus COVID-19?
If determined as appropriate for testing - patient under investigation (PUI) - a medical doctor will order:
Nose swab(this could feel quite uncomfortable as it reaches deep into your nasal cavity)
One lower respiratory specimen: you will be asked to rinse your mouth with water and then expectorate deep cough sputum directly into a sterile, leak-proof, screw-cap sputum collection cup or sterile dry container
As of March 13, the CDC Interim Clinical Guidelines stated that only one nasopharyngeal swab is needed. "Collection of oropharyngeal swabs (OP) is a lower priority and if collected should be combined in the same tube as the NP. Collection of sputum should only be done for those patients with productive coughs."
After getting the specimens, the clinic will send them to a Public Health Lab approved by the government to test for Coronavirus COVID-19. Currently, only 40 Public Health Labs in the U.S. are authorized by the CDC to test for Coronavirus COVID-19. Some companies are allowing the use of a saliva sample instead of a nose swab. These tests are less invasive and minimize the contact between provider and patient.
How long will it take to get the results?
Once the specimen reach the lab, they are then put through a four-step process that takesthree to five hours to reveal if a patient has coronavirus.
Due to high demand, there may be some delays in the turnaround time. In New York City, the current turnaround time is around 3-5 days. Your provider will be immediately notified of the positive result.
What to do in the meantime?
Keep calm, take the steps below to make sure you are not infecting others as well as staying on top of your health.
Practice social distancing, this is the most effective way to slow down the spread.
Take your temperature twice a day.
Check for symptoms — cough or shortness of breath.
Stay at home and remain out of public places. Do not go to school or work.
You need to do this for 14 days since the day you left the CDC designated country that requires home self-monitoring, even if you spent time in another country before entering the U.S.
Healthcare can be confusing, here are more resources:
This article is not meant to replace expert opinions of a medical provider pertaining to your health. If you are in need of immediate care, please consult with your insurance carrier, public health official, or call 911.
Awareness is key. Share knowledge with your friends and family.