COVID-19 Testing

should i get tested for coronavirus?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) created this easy self-guided symptom checker to help you determine whether or not you should seek testing or go into isolation or quarantine.

Should I call 9-1-1 to ask about testing? 

No! Only call 9-1-1 if you are having a true medical emergency. Please do NOT call 9-1-1 to ask about testing locations or advice on seeking medical attention. 

WHAT WILL HAPPEN WHEN I CALL MY DOCTOR? 

They may ask you questions over the phone to determine whether or not you meet the criteria for a COVID-19 test. This includes asking you questions about your recent activity (like any recent travel) and whether you may have come in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus. 

Who Should get tested for COVID-19? 

If you are experiencing symptoms and are able to manage your symptoms, stay at home and self-isolate. Getting tested will not change anything. However, if you have more serious symptoms or are at high risk, which is considered elderly, immuno-compromised, or have multiple underlying medical conditions, please call your doctor. If you have life-threatening symptoms, call 9-1-1.

Who will pay for the test if I do get tested?

Every insurance carrier in PA has eliminated co-pays for COVID-19 testing. Contact your health care insurance provider to find out this information. 

Where do I get tested?  

Testing capabilities have been greatly increased across Montgomery County since the COVID-19 outbreak first began. There are a number of options available (some that are no-cost, and some with a cost) so you should determine which option is best for you.

Here is a map-based webpage that shows the locations of testing sites in Montgomery County that are open to the public and do not require a doctor’s referral. Here is a map-based webpage from the PA Department of Health that shows locations of testing sites in the region and across the state.

To be clear: The Montgomery County Office of Public Health DOES NOT conduct testing for the COVID-19 virus. Our staff can answer questions and do its best to help connect an individual who needs testing with a facility that MIGHT be able to provide that test. 

I can’t get in to see my doctor and I’m worried I might have the virus. What should I do?  

Your first call should be to a doctor. If your doctor is unavailable, try calling another doctor. The next step is to visit an urgent care center – but be sure to call ahead and tell them why you’re coming. Try to avoid going to the hospital Emergency Room as much as possible, and definitely do not call 9-1-1 unless you’re in a serious medical emergency.  

How long do test results take?  

Test results are currently taking from four to six days.  

What should I do if I have the symptoms but do not have health insurance?   

If you have the symptoms AND have been exposed to coronavirus, you can be assessed by an Office of Public Health Disease Intervention Specialist to see if you qualify for testing through the State Bureau of Laboratories (BOL).   

WHAT HAPPENS IF SOMEONE I KNOW TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID-19?

Monitor your symptoms (fever, cough, and shortness of breath). If you are experiencing symptoms, self-isolate and notify members of your household and close contacts within the last 2 days. 

I  WAS IN CLOSE CONTACT WITH SOMEONE WHO IS GETTING TESTED.  WHAT SHOULD I DO? 

You should self-isolate, monitor your symptoms, and if they progress, call your doctor.  

The virus was said to be airborne.  What precautionary measures are being taken to keep the virus from being spread at the testing centers?   

Staff at the testing locations will be wearing protective gear. Persons being tested will have to leave their vehicle and approach the testing station. They will be asked to remain six feet back.  Other individuals who are not being tested should remain in the car.  Staff taking samples will use CDC recommendations for protective clothing and equipment.   

Can a person test negative and later test positive for COVID-19? 

Using the CDC-developed diagnostic test, a negative result means that the virus that causes COVID-19 was not found in the person’s sample. In the early stages of infection, it is possible the virus will not be detected. 

For COVID-19, a negative test result for a sample collected while a person has symptoms likely means that the COVID-19 virus is not causing their current illness. 

i’ve heard a lot about antibody testing. where can i get one of those type of tests?

Currently there are no serological tests that are approved by the FDA for use in a point of care setting. There are also no CDC guidelines for the interpretation of COVID-19 serology tests. We also have no information to know whether or not someone with antibodies can become re-infected. Also, we do not know if the existing antibody tests indicate a response to COVID-19 only or to any coronavirus. A positive result might confer a false sense of security.

We anticipate that an increasing number of manufacturers will receive emergency FDA approval and that the science will soon be better developed. We anticipate that the tests will be available to Montgomery County residents in the next month or so.

For additional information from the Pennsylvania Department of Health about antibody testing, click here.


OTHER IMPORTANT FAQs

Exposure and Spread of Virus
Isolation and Quarantine
Prevention and Vaccine
Protection
Symptoms
Testing