COVID testing plays a significant role in protecting yourself and others and in helping to prevent the virus from spreading. A positive COVID test early on not only allows you to isolate, reducing the chance of infecting others, it also enables you to seek suitable treatment sooner, which can help to reduce the severity of the disease and the risk of long-term complications.
COVID-19 is a disease caused by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus. It is easily transmitted between people, and although it often causes minor symptoms in most people, the virus can cause serious illness and long-term disability in others.
In April 2020, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics Initiative to develop rapid, accurate, and easy-to-use COVID testing nationwide. Testing allows people to determine if they are infected with COVID-19, regardless of whether they have symptoms. It can help to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others, particularly to those that are most vulnerable of becoming seriously ill from the virus.
Types Of COVID Testing
There are two main types of COVID-19 tests available, viral tests and antibody tests. Viral tests are designed to check for current infection, while antibody tests are used to detect if you have antibodies present in your body, which indicate you had COVID in the past.
Viral tests work to detect if you are infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. They include:
- Rapid tests – such as antigen tests, are easy to use and usually involve taking a nasal swab sample. They provide fast results, typically within 15-30 minutes, and are a useful screening tool. However, they are generally less sensitive than lab tests and may not be as reliable for people without COVID symptoms. Follow-up tests may be required.
- Lab tests – such as PCR tests, involve taking a saliva or nasal swab sample. The test is reliable for people with and without symptoms, as it is highly sensitive to detecting even very small amounts of the virus. Test results take longer than rapid test results and are usually available within 1-3 days. No follow-up test is usually required.
An antibody test, also known as a serology test, is used to detect antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the blood. Antibodies are proteins created by the immune system to help fight infection and protect you from illness in the future. They can develop either from a previous infection of COVID-19 or after getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
Antibody tests are not used to identify current infection but can help to indicate a previous infection and check whether a person has any immunity to the virus. The test involves taking a small sample of blood, which is then tested in a lab. Results of the test are usually available within 24-48 hours.
When COVID Testing Is Necessary
COVID can cause a range of symptoms, and in some people, it can lead to severe, long-lasting damage to the body and organs. COVID testing, along with other risk-reducing measures, such as wearing a face mask, plays a significant role in protecting people and reducing the spread of COVID-19.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that you should have a COVID test if you:
- Have symptoms of the virus, such as fever, cough, headache, the new loss of taste or smell, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
- Are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and have had known or suspected close contact to someone with the virus. If the test is negative, you should test again 5-7 days later or immediately if symptoms develop.
- Are fully vaccinated and have had known or suspected close contact to someone with COVID-19 (test 5-7 days after contact).
- For screening purposes (school, workplace etc.).
- Are due to travel.
- Are asked to do so by a healthcare professional/public health official.
What You Should Do If You Test Positive For COVID-19
If you test positive for COVID, you should isolate for at least 5 days and follow the necessary precautions to prevent spreading infection regardless of whether you are vaccinated or not. Day 0 is the first day of symptoms or the day of the positive test, if asymptomatic.
You can end isolation after 5 full days if you are fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication) and if other symptoms have improved, aside from loss of smell/taste. You should wear a face mask in public and around other people for 5 additional days and you shouldn’t travel. If symptoms persist after 5 days, you should continue to isolate until day 10 or until symptoms have improved.
If your result is negative, it is likely that you were not infectious at the time the sample was collected, but you should continue to take suitable steps to protect yourself and others and re-test if/when necessary.
Where To Go For COVID Testing
COVID-19 testing is widely available at a number of different settings nationwide, including pharmacies, urgent care centers, health centers, and rapid testing facilities. If you are unsure where your nearest COVID testing facility is, contact your healthcare provider or local health department for more information. The CDC website also has up-to-date information on COVID-19 testing.
Urgent care centers offer fast, convenient, COVID-19 testing and no appointment is necessary. However, you should always check the testing protocol with your provider before attending the center in person to prevent spreading the virus to others.
If you have symptoms or know you have been exposed to the virus, some healthcare providers may recommend a self-test or self-collection kit, which are often available over the counter or by prescription from pharmacies and certain retail stores.
COVID Testing in King, NC
Visit Cardinal Urgent Care for fast, safe, and convenient COVID testing. We provide a range of health care services for patients of all ages, including urgent care, routine physicals, occupational health, and rapid testing via nasal swab to allow you to know your COVID-19 status as soon as possible.
To learn more about COVID-19 testing or about any of our other services, call us today at (336) 983-9111. We offer extended hours and are open 7 days a week to ensure you get the care you need, when you need it. Alternatively, if you’re not in a rush, you can request an appointment online.