Who should get tested for COVID-19?
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, get tested. You can also get tested if you are part of a high-risk category, such as health care workers and first responders. Getting tested will provide the diagnosis you need to determine your next steps.
Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus, and testing is the most accurate when symptoms are present. Symptoms include:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
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What if I test positive for COVID-19?
If you test positive, you will need to isolate yourself, take care of yourself and monitor your symptoms.
- Talk with your healthcare provider for guidance about your care. Consider a telehealth visit or nurseline before seeking in-person care.
- The people who have been in close contact with you will need to take precautions. Read more about self-quarantining.
- If you’d like to receive text messages with information about support available during isolation and/or quarantine, use CDPHE’s support tool.
Exposure notification: Work with public health to help slow the spread.
When a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, it is very important for JCPH to quickly identify any individuals who have come in close contact with that person. This allows us to let that person know they could have been exposed to the virus, so they can also take steps to protect their own health and the health of their loved ones.
Following your positive diagnosis, an employee from JCPH will call you to check-in on your health, discuss who you’ve been in contact with and ask you to stay at home to self-isolate. We will also reach out to close contacts who could have been exposed, and ask them to monitor their symptoms and self-quarantine. We will never disclose your name to those close contacts. Please answer our call to help us slow transmission. (Note: Through a partnership with CDPHE, Connect for Health Colorado® is also supporting calls for COVID-19 testing and containment results).
- Check out this fact sheet for more information about exposure notification (contact tracing).
- Find more information about testing from CDPHE.
What kinds of tests are there?
There are several different types of tests being used to test for COVID-19. Molecular-based tests, also called PCR tests, are currently the best way to test for COVID-19 infection.
- Molecular-based testing: This is a molecular amplification test detects genetic material from a specific virus in patient samples. Most molecular tests for COVID-19 are called PCR tests, however, there are a few other molecular tests that are not called PCR.
- Antigenic testing: An antigenic test can quickly detect fragments of proteins found on or within the virus that causes COVID-19. The test is similar to a rapid flu test and is performed at the point-of-care by collecting a sample from the nasal cavity using a swab. Results can be obtained in a couple of hours. While antigen tests can be less expensive and offer fast results, they are not as sensitive as PCR tests. This means a PCR test might be needed to confirm a negative antigen test. A positive test, however, can be treated as a positive result.
- Serological testing: A serological test is a blood test that looks for antibodies in your blood. It can detect the body’s immune response to the infection caused by the virus, rather than detecting the virus itself. While these tests can detect previous exposure to COVID-19, they cannot reliably determine if a patient is currently infected and able to spread the virus to others. Because much is still unknown about how long immunity may last following COVID-19 infection, these tests may give a false sense of safety to patients.
***Important note about serological testing: During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many companies are distributing rapid serological test kits to detect antibodies in COVID-19 patients. Public health discourages the use of any serological test that has not been approved by the FDA or at the state level, for any purpose other than research. More information about serological testing can be found in CDC’s Interim Guidelines for COVID-19 Antibody Testing.