I need a COVID-19 test, now what?

November 16, 2020 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

If you’ve recently started to feel symptoms of COVID-19, if someone in your family has or if someone you’ve been in close contact with has, you should get a COVID-19 test.

A COVID-19 test checks for the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

But where do you go? Do you need a doctor to order a test? And how long does it take to get the results? We’ll provide some answers to your questions about COVID-19 testing.

I think I need a COVID-19 test. How do I get one?

If you have symptoms of coronavirus or suspect you may have it, your first call should be to your primary care physician. Your doctor can determine whether you need a test and order one, if necessary.

You can also visit our screening options for COVID-19 page, which includes a symptom checker and COVID-19 Nurse Triage Line (331-221-5199) to help you with next steps.

Once you have a physician order, you can schedule an appointment for a test at one of Edward-Elmhurst Health’s outpatient lab locations. You can also visit one of our Immediate Care or Walk-In Clinic locations to be evaluated and tested for COVID-19.

Testing also is available to Illinois residents at Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) testing sites throughout the state. These testing sites are open to all, regardless of symptoms. The IDPH also lists statewide testing locations. You can find more details here.

I don’t have COVID-19 symptoms, can I still get a test?

If you’re asymptomatic but you’ve had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, contact your primary care doctor. While you’re waiting to take your test and after you are tested and are waiting for results, isolate yourself at home to avoid potentially infecting others.

I don’t have COVID-19 symptoms, but I want to know if I’ve had it. What can I do?

Serology tests, or tests that look for COVID-19 antibodies, may tell you if you have had a past infection. It can take days to weeks to develop antibodies that could be detected by a test after a COVID-19 infection.

At this time, it’s unknown how long antibodies remain in your body after an infection. It’s also unknown whether the antibodies will protect you from future infection.

An order for antibody testing is required from your Edward-Elmhurst Health primary care physician and can be scheduled through Central Scheduling at 630-527-3200.

I tried to get a COVID-19 test, but I couldn’t get one. Now what?

Unfortunately, in many cases there are restrictions on who is eligible for a COVID-19 test due to limited testing capacity. High-priority groups currently include symptomatic healthcare workers, first responders, elderly people and anyone with pre-existing chronic conditions.

The IDPH offers guidance on who should be tested, but decisions about testing are at the discretion of state and local health departments, health systems and/or individual clinicians.

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you can call your primary care physician, schedule a virtual screening visit, or visit one of our Immediate Care or Walk-In Clinic locations to be evaluated for potential testing.

If you were not tested but have symptoms that are similar to a respiratory infection, you should still "self-isolate" until:

  • At least 10 days since the start of symptoms; AND
  • At least 24 hours after your fever ends (without the use of fever reducing medication like acetaminophen or ibuprofen); AND
  • You have significant improvement in respiratory symptoms (including cough, shortness of breath).

If your symptoms worsen, contact your doctor to see if an order for testing would be appropriate.

When will I get my COVID-19 test results?

It could take 3 to 7 days to get your test results. If you got tested at Edward-Elmhurst Health, you will receive your COVID-19 test results through your MyChart® account or from your doctor’s office.

What should I do while I’m waiting for my COVID-19 test results?

If you think you have COVID-19 or if you’ve been around someone who was infected, you should stay home and isolate yourself until you get your test results.

What should I do after I get my COVID-19 results?

If your test comes back positive, you should remain isolated for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started or, if you have no symptoms, from the date of your test. You should continue to remain isolated until you have gone 24 hours without a fever (without fever-reducing medication) and your other symptoms have improved. If you became very ill, your doctor may determine you need to isolate longer, up to 20 days after the start of symptoms.

If you’ve tested positive, think about who you may have been in contact with in the two days before your symptoms started or you got your test done. They might need a COVID-19 test, too.

This blog was reviewed by Alvaro Candel, MD, pathologist with Elmhurst Hospital, and Annemarie Schmocker, RN, BSN, CIC, Manager of Infection Control & Prevention at Elmhurst Hospital.

If you feel ill, Edward-Elmhurst Health is offering screening options for COVID-19, including a symptom checker to advise you on what to do next and a COVID-19 Nurse Triage Line (331-221-5199) to see if you meet testing requirements. We are also offering Video Visits and E-Visits for COVID-19 symptoms.

For updates on our planning and response efforts as we work to stop the spread of COVID-19, please check EEHealth.org/coronavirus.

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