Your provider might recommend you get tested for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), even if you are not experiencing any symptoms of illness.
While not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19, your provider might suggest testing as part of your care, either in the hospital or during an office visit.
Testing: What to Expect
While there are several types of testing available, most people who are tested at OSF will receive what’s called a viral test.
During a viral test, a swab that looks like a long Q-tip is used to collect a sample from inside your nose. You will usually be asked to tilt your head back, then the swab will be inserted through your nose into your nasal cavity.
This swab can be uncomfortable, but it should not be painful and lasts only a few seconds. You may be asked to blow your nose or breathe through your mouth to make the collection process easier.
The purpose of the swab is to collect cells from inside your respiratory tract to be analyzed for the presence of novel coronavirus. Most of the time, a sufficient specimen can be collected after a single swab, although some people may have each nostril swabbed as part of their test.
The swab is then packaged and sent to a laboratory for analysis.
Results: What they Mean
Results of a COVID-19 test are usually available within two to three days.
There are three possible results of a COVID test:
- If you test positive for COVID-19, your provider will give you advice about what to do next. You can also call 833-OSF-KNOW (833-673-5669) – a free, 24-hour hotline – for more information about where and how to receive care.
- If you test negative for COVID-19, you probably were not infected at the time your sample was collected. That does not necessarily mean you won’t get sick if you were to be exposed after your test.
- A very small number of tests may be inconclusive. This is extremely rare, accounting for only about 1% of tests. If your test is inconclusive, your provider may recommend you get tested again.