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Here’s What You Need to Know About COVID-19 Testing

SARS-CoV2, a strain of coronavirus that causes COVID19, is the newest known strain of the coronavirus to infect humans. COVID-19 stands for Coronavirus Disease of 2019. COVID-19 was first detected in Wuhan, China in late 2019, and spread rapidly around the world, inducing a global pandemic.  

Researchers in China were able to isolate the virus and share its genetic profile with other countries in early January 2020.  Once researchers obtained the genetic profile of COVID-19, they were able to develop tests to detect it. 

The first known case of the virus in the U.S. was diagnosed in a patient in Washington State on January 21, 2020. 

In February 2020 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) implemented the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), which allows tests and medications that haven’t completed the standard FDA-approval process to be used during a national emergency.  The EUA allowed COVID-19 tests to become more readily available to patients across the United States.  As of now, the FDA has allowed more than twenty companies to manufacture and sell COVID-19 tests. 

What types of testing are available for COVID-19? 

There are two primary ways of testing for the presence of an infection: molecular and serological. 

The most common form of COVID-19 molecular testing is a method called Nucleic Acid Amplification Testing (NAAT).  In this test, a health care provider swabs a patient’s nose and/or throat, or obtains a sputum sample.  Then a machine performs an analysis on the sample to look for the presence of COVID-19 genetic material. 

Serologic testing, on the other hand, is performed on a sample of a patient’s blood.  It doesn’t look for evidence of the virus itself, but rather looks for antibodies that the patient has developed against the virus.  In an active infection, levels of an antibody called IgM will be elevated.  If a patient has been previously infected but has recovered from the infection, levels of an antibody called IgG will be elevated.

NAAT is currently the most widely-used COVID-19 testing method.  In the early months of 2020, it took an average of 2-5 days to obtain a result from a NAAT COVID-19 test.  But in some labs, the overwhelming number of samples created a backlog that caused delays of one to two weeks.

In late March 2020, a company called Abbott received an EUA from the FDA to release a rapid COVID-19 test on their ID NOW system, that can detect a positive result in less than 5 minutes, and a negative result in as little as 13 minutes. 

While NAAT is the most common method of testing for active COVID-19 infections, efforts are underway to make serologic antibody tests widely available in the near future.

Is COVID-19 testing available at GoHealth Urgent Care centers?

Across the country, we have different testing capabilities in each of our GoHealth Urgent Care markets. 

  • In California, Oregon and Washington rapid COVID-19 testing is available with a referral from a Virtual Visit provider after an evaluation via video to determine if a test is clinically appropriate. 

  • In Connecticut, Missouri (STL Area), New York, and North Carolina we have swab testing available if testing requirements are met. 

  • In Delaware, we are offering COVID-19 evaluations from the safety of your home with our Video Visit, telemedicine service. If testing is appropriate, we can refer you to a testing site.

Learn more about the COVID-19 testing process in your area by clicking on your state above.

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At GoHealth Urgent Care we’re open 7 days a week to care for you. Select your location below to learn more about our COVID-19 services.

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