Who should get tested for COVID-19?
If you are experiencing any symptoms that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified for COVID-19, you need to get tested.
- People with COVID-19 can have mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms can appear two to 14 days after being exposed to the virus. Symptoms can include: cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever or chills, muscle or body aches, sore throat, headache, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, runny nose or stuffy nose, fatigue, recent loss of taste or smell. Children have similar symptoms to adults and generally have mild illness.
- In certain situations, it is recommended that you to be tested if you do not have symptoms if you are a health care worker, first responder, congregate care facility resident or staff (includes nursing homes, assisted living facilities, managed residential communities, correctional institutions), homeless, or living in communities at high risk. Some of these situations include being exposed to someone with COVID-19 without adequate protection or detection of asymptomatic spread during an outbreak.
- The most up-to-date guidance from the California Department of Public Health regarding who should be tested can be found at https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Immunization/ncov2019.aspx
- If you are contacted by a public health professional or contact tracer and told that you have been in contact with a known case of COVID-19, you should be tested. The public health professional will help you identify a location for testing.
- These recommendations may evolve as the science of the pandemic becomes more clear, as the situation evolves, and as testing becomes even more widely available.
How do I get tested for COVID-19?
- If you think you have COVID-19 and feel like you have symptoms, you should first call your primary care provider to talk about your symptoms and discuss if you need to be seen in the office or have an outpatient COVID-19 test done.
- BVCHD is conducting COVID-19 testing through our laboratory services department. Your physician can fax an order for testing to the Admitting department at (909) 878-8283.
- If you are experiencing severe symptoms such as new onset shortness of breath or breathing difficulties you should go directly to the Emergency Department.
I don’t have a primary care provider. Does that mean I can’t get tested?
- If you don’t have a primary care provider, you can still get tested for COVID-19. There are community based testing centers across the County that can administer a test without a physician’s order. Information regarding testing center locations and hours can be found at https://sbcovid19.com/testing-sites/
How long will I have to wait to get the results of my COVID-19 test?
- Test results are usually available within 3-5 days. While you are waiting for your test results, it is very important to stay at home and isolate yourself to avoid spreading your symptoms to others.
What happens if I test positive?
- Stay at home, wash your hands frequently, wear a face mask (or a cloth face covering if a mask is not available), stay away from other people in your home, and clean “high-touch” surfaces” (doorknobs, railings, phones, counters, faucet handles) every day.
- Your name and contact information will be shared with public health staff at the California Department of Public Health to help with contact investigation.
- Someone from the California Department of Public Health or your local health department will call you and ask you for a list of people you have had close contact with while you were sick or just before you got sick.
- A contact tracer will only contact you for health matters related to COVID-19 and not for any other reason.
- You can leave your home if these two things have happened:
- You must have had no fever for 72 hours (three days) without the use of fever reducing medications, and your respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) must be getting better; and
- At least 10 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared.
- If you had no symptoms but tested positive, you should stay home until 10 days after your positive test.
- If any of your symptoms get worse, call your healthcare provider.
What happens if I test negative?
- If you start having any symptoms of COVID-19 after the test, call your healthcare provider and ask if you should be tested again. Wash your hands often and practice social distancing (six feet between you and other people).
- Wear a cloth face covering when you leave your house.
- If you get sick, stay home from work.
- Clean “high-touch” surfaces” (doorknobs, railings, phones, counters, faucet handles) every day.
- If you test negative for COVID-19, you most likely were not infected at the time of your test. It is also possible that you were tested very early in your infection and you could test positive later. It is also possible you could be exposed later and get sick. This means that even with a negative test, it is important for healthcare workers and others who work with vulnerable populations to stay home from work while experiencing any symptoms.
Why isn’t the state testing everyone in California?
- Testing is an important part of our pandemic response, but it is not the only part. Other behaviors – wearing a mask, hand washing, social distancing, and cleaning – are equally important tools.
- Testing people who have COVID-19 symptoms is still critical.
- For people without symptoms, we are focused on testing people in areas hit hardest by the virus. We are also offering testing to people working in close-contact environments. This will help us monitor the virus and identify places that need support from the health department.