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With the number of COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus) cases increasing daily in communities all over the world and with the increased availability of COVID-19 testing within communities, I’m getting quite a few questions from individuals about testing. One question is, should I even get tested?
The current guidance is that it will likely require both a high clinical suspicion on your part and on the part of your doctor and a written prescription from that doctor. So if you believe that you are sick and that you need to be tested, the first thing that you need to do is to not come to the emergency department, but contact your primary care physician first.
Call your doctor and if your doctor is unavailable, then call your local health department hotline for guidance, because simply wanting to be tested is not currently enough to guarantee that you will be tested. If you feel that you need to be tested and you have a doctor’s prescription and the local public health agency disagrees and your doctor still feels that you should be tested, they can refer you with that same prescription to a private third party lab for testing. Regardless of where you’re tested, the results currently take at least 24 hours, during which time the patient should be self isolated because if you thought that you were sick enough to be tested for COVID-19, then you should be separating yourself from those who may not be infected.
Once you get those results, then you need to follow the guidance of those who give you the test results and what your public health officials are telling you to do. But in general, most people (85% or so) will recover with only mild symptoms and therefore self isolation is all that’s required.