▪ Also called PCR tests, detect the virus’s genetic material.
▪ Most accurate tests for detecting the virus that causes COVID-19.
• Used whether or not you have symptoms.
▪ A positive PCR test result is considered a confirmed case of COVID-19, and public health workers will follow up with the person to give recommendations for how long to stay home.
Given with a nasal swab, oral (throat) swab, or by taking a saliva sample.
▪ Nasal swab: A nasal swab looks like a long Q-tip. Nasal swabs are fast and accurate, and they’re a good option for most people.
▪ Saliva test: Saliva tests are self-administered; this means that after you are shown how to perform the test, you’ll do it by yourself. Follow the instructions in the kit.
• You will spit several times into a funnel attached to a tube, and then screw on a cap to complete the test.
▪ Do not eat, drink, chew, or smoke anything for at least 30 minutes before giving the sample.
▪ Most people need 10-12 minutes to make enough spit to fill the tube. Saliva tests are more comfortable than nasal swabs and just as accurate, but they may not be a good option for those with low saliva production, such as very young children or those who have suffered a stroke.
▪ Sometimes called rapid tests, look for specific proteins on the surface of the virus.
▪ Produce results more quickly than other tests. Often within 15 minutes.
▪ May not be as accurate, especially for people who do not have symptoms.
▪ Given with a nasal swab. This is NOT an at home test.
▪ A positive antigen test result is considered a probable case of COVID-19, but they are still considered cases and a public health worker will follow up with the person to give recommendations for how long to stay home.
▪ Antibody tests check blood samples by looking for antibodies, which can show if a person had a PAST infection with the virus that causes COVID-19.
▪ They are not used to diagnose COVID-19, and cannot be used to shorten a quarantine period or be used to return to school, child care or youth program.
▪ The presence of antibodies does not indicate a person is protected from future infection.
▪ Coronavirus Testing Basics – U.S. Food and Drug Administration
I Got Tested – Now What?
▪ I Got Tested – Now What?
▪ If you know you’ve had close contact with someone who tested positive – in general, close contact means being within about 6 feet of a person who has COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more throughout the course of a day (24 hours) – you should stay home for 14 days (quarantine) no matter what your test result is. A negative test result does not mean you can stop quarantine. You could still become sick, and you could spread COVID-19 without knowing.
▪ If you’ve been advised by your doctor or local public health to stay home and be tested, you should follow their advice.
▪ If you do not have symptoms, have not had close contact with a person who tested positive, and have not been specifically recommended for testing, you can still get tested.
▪ A person deciding to get a test at a community testing event under these circumstances does not need to stay home until they receive their result; however, given high community spread, it is a good idea to limit social interactions during this time.
Source: MDH COVID-19 School Nurse Update Call 11/4/2020