The first publicly available tests (in the U.S.) for this disease use a swab in nose and throat passages, That sample is then examined for coronavirus RNA fragments, and a positive test result means that there is an active COVID-19 infection.
Processing these tests can take a few days to get results. Those few days can make a big difference in how seriously ill someone can become, or in how many people can be infected through contact - so don't wait for test results before taking precautions!
Until coronavirus tests are readily available, people who may be healthy should avoid asking to be tested, unless their healthcare team thinks it is medically necessary. If there is a shortage of test kits, you may not be tested even if you have symptoms.
Here are links to testing locations in the Bay Area. Please note: some are only available to patients enrolled in that system, others accept patients with any or no health insurance.
On June 10, Santa Clara County issued an Order that requires all healthcare systems and health insurance plans to test people who request the live coronavirus and fall into one (or more) of these 4 categories:
Because so many people have no symptoms with this disease, the only way to tell who has had it - and who might be immune to the current version of this virus - is to look for antibodies in their systems. Several different trial versions of antibody tests are being used and tested, but as of this writing, none of them have reliable accuracy. Since these all involve testing for various substances in the blood, these are referred to as serologic tests.
On May 23, The CDC released guidance on serologic tests which included these strong recommendations [emphasis added]:
However, antibody tests are useful in these ways:
Ultimately, without reliable antibody testing, we cannot have good data on the spread of COVID-19 .
A contract tracer should only ask questions about your COVID-19 symptoms or status, and about the people you may have had contact in a specific period of time. Legitimate contact tracers will never ask you for a Social Security number or about immigration status, for any health insurance or financial information.
(If you are asked any of those questions, the call may be a scam. Please do not give out those details, and make a complaint to the CA State Attorney General.)
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