As the year comes to a close, the virus that causes COVID-19 continues to spread throughout Northern Virginia. With the surge in infections, you may be seeking information about getting tested after the holidays. There are currently two kinds available, according to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC): a viral test indicates whether you have a current infection, while an antibody test could tell you if you were infected previously.
It’s easy to confuse the antibody test with the antigen test, which is one of two diagnostic tests approved by the FDA to determine whether you are currently infected. The antigen test usually involves swabbing your nose or the part of your throat behind your nose, and you can get results within 15 to 30 minutes. The other type of diagnostic test is a molecular test, also popularly known as a NAAAT or RT-PCR test. A health care worker will use a swab to take a sample from your nose, behind your nose, or your throat. For more details about the types of test, click here to visit the FDA website.
WHO SHOULD GET TESTED
The CDC and Virginia Department say you should get tested if you:
- Have symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever, cough, headache or new loss of taste or smell. Click here for more information on symptoms from the CDC. You should get emergency medical care immediately If you’re having severe symptoms such as trouble breathing, persistent chest pains or pressure, new confusion, an inability to wake or stay awake, or bluish lips or face.
- Have been within 6 feet for 15 minutes or longer with someone who has confirmed case of infection.
- Have participated in activities where you couldn’t socially distance, such as traveling, attending large social gatherings, or remaining in crowded indoor settings.
- Have been asked to get tested by your health care provider or health department.
- You can also take the CDC’s online Coronavirus Self-Checker, which walks you through a series of questions to help you determine whether you should get yourself tested. Click here to access the automated virtual checklist.
If you’re traveling, some destinations are requiring a negative COVID-19 test to opt out of mandated quarantine periods. You’ll want to check the state or country’s website to find out what their travel and quarantine policies are.
WHERE TO GET TESTED
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, contact your primary care provider for information on where you can get tested.
If you don’t have a primary care provider, you can get tested at an urgent care center or community clinic such as Alexandria Neighborhood Health and Arlington Free Clinic. In Fairfax County, some locations offer low-cost and free testing for uninsured patients – click here for more information online.
If you live in Alexandria, check the city’s website for free targeted testing events, available to residents with or without insurance. No appointment is necessary, but you can pre-register online. Click here for more information, including upcoming dates.
The Virginia Department of Health provides an online resource that shows testing sites throughout the state; click here to access the map and list.
If you didn’t get a rapid result test, you can expect to get your results in 1 to 7 days. While you wait for results, you should stay home and self-isolate to help protect your family and friends from possibly becoming infected.
You should also make a list of people you have recently been around. This will be helpful information to give health workers if your test comes back positive.
If you test positive, you should isolate at home and follow your doctor’s guidance, monitoring your symptoms and seeking emergency care if needed. Click here for detailed advice from the CDC on how you can prevent the spread of the disease.
If you test negative, it means you probably were not infected at the time you were tested. A negative test does not mean you will not get sick later, so continue to maintain all safety precautions, including wearing a mask and social distancing.
As a leading provider of contract cleaning services to Commercial and High Security facilities in the DC Metro region, Mister Kleen’s employees are on the front line of the fight against COVID-19. We take the safety and health of our team and our clients seriously, and provide continuous safety training related to COVID-19.