What is coronavirus disease (COVID-19)?
Coronavirus disease (also called COVID-19) is an infection caused by SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus), one of the most recently discovered types of coronaviruses. Those who have this disease may or may not experience symptoms, which range from mild to severe.
How does COVID-19 spread?
COVID-19 spreads from person-to-person. When an infected person coughs, sneezes, or exhales air, droplets containing the virus go into the air and onto surfaces and objects around them. Other people are exposed to the virus by breathing in these droplets or by touching their eyes, nose, or mouth after touching infected surfaces.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after being exposed to the virus. The most common symptoms include: - Fever - Cough - Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing - Chills - Repeated shaking with chills - Muscle pain - Headache - Sore throat - New loss of taste or smell
Cases of COVID-19 range from mild to severe. Some people who are infected don’t have any symptoms and don’t feel sick. Most people have mild symptoms.
Who is at high risk of getting very sick?
Severe cases are more likely to occur in older adults (65 years of age and older), as well as pregnant women, those with weakened immune systems, and those with underlying health issues (such as lung disease, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, heart conditions, stroke, kidney disease or on dialysis, liver disease, cancer, transplant, AIDS, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis). However, serious illness can also occur in young, healthy adults.
How is COVID-19 treated?
There is currently no treatment for COVID-19. Not all patients with COVID-19 will require medical attention, and most people recover within 2 weeks without any specific treatment. For severe cases, hospitalization and respiratory support may be required. For mild cases, treatment focuses on managing symptoms.
What is a COVID-19 PCR test?
PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests check for genetic material (viral RNA) produced by the virus. This determines if an individual is actively infected with COVID-19 and can spread it to others.
Who should get a COVID-19 PCR test?
You should get tested if: - You have symptoms of COVID-19, are a healthcare worker, or you live or work in a place where people reside, meet, or gather in close proximity. This can include homeless shelters, assisted living facilities, group homes, prisons, detention centers, schools, and workplaces. - A public health department or contact investigator has identified you as someone who should get tested. This test may also be helpful if: - You have symptoms of COVID-19 and want to check to see if you have the virus and can pass it on to others. - You do not have symptoms but the health department or your clinician identified you as someone who should get tested. If you are a healthcare professional, first responder, frontline worker, or critical infrastructure worker and believe you have been directly exposed while at work, you should consult your place of work for specific occupational health guidance about testing and whether to stay home or continue working while waiting for your results. You should adhere to recommendations set forth by your employer or the department of health, as they may differ from the CDC’s guidelines. If you have any other questions, we recommend that you speak with your primary healthcare provider about testing recommendations to see if testing is right for you at this time.
What will my COVID-19 PCR test results tell me?
Your test results will confirm whether or not you are currently infected with COVID-19. If your results are positive, it is important to limit your exposure to other people and continue to monitor your symptoms. If your results are negative, the virus was not present in the sample you provided.
After receiving your results, you will have an opportunity to speak with a licensed physician, who can answer any questions you may have about your test results and help determine next steps in care.
Are there any limitations to COVID-19 PCR tests?
This test may not detect the virus in early stages of infection. Furthermore, the virus may not be detected if the sample is not collected as directed. Although the possibility is low, a false negative result should be considered if you have had recent exposure to the virus along with symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
How is a COVID-19 PCR test performed?
This test is conducted by nasal swab. The nasal swab test requires insertion of a swab into your nose and the back of your throat.
How do I prepare for the test?
You do not need to do anything to prepare for the test. You do not need to fast or stop taking any medications before testing. Further instructions will be provided to you at the lab or in your test kit.
- Where can I get more information?