Coronavirus (COVID-19): Important information from Sharp
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Sharp Health News

Should I be tested for COVID-19?

March 25, 2020

Should I be tested for COVID-19?
You have a fever and cough, and are worried you might have coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Should you get tested? The answer is that it depends. Because of a shortage of test kits available, public health officials require people to meet a very specific set of conditions before they can be tested.

Here are six frequently asked questions about testing for COVID-19.

  1. What should I do if I think I have coronavirus?
    If you have had close contact with someone who is confirmed to have or is being evaluated for coronavirus, and think you may be sick, the CDC recommends self-isolation within your home. You should also monitor your health starting from the day you first had close contact with the person and continue monitoring for 14 days after you last had close contact with the person. Watch for these signs and symptoms:

    • Fever (take your temperature twice a day)
    • Cough
    • Runny nose
    • Sore throat
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing If you develop a fever or any of these symptoms, call your health care provider immediately and inform them of your close contact with someone who is confirmed to have or is being evaluated for coronavirus.

  2. Is Sharp testing patients for coronavirus?
    If a patient meets the criteria for a COVID-19 test, a caregiver will take a nasal or oral swab and send it to Sharp's privately contracted laboratory. This is currently the protocol that is in place for all Sharp HealthCare facilities. To determine who should be tested, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and San Diego County Public Health Services set forth these guidelines:

    • Hospitalized patients who have signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19.
    • Other symptomatic individuals who are considered high-risk for COVID-19. These include older adults and individuals of any age with chronic medical conditions or an immunocompromised state (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, receiving immunosuppressive medications, lung disease and kidney disease).
    • Any persons, including health care personnel, who had close contact with a suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient within 14 days of symptom onset.

  3. Why is it taking so long for patients to be tested?
    Labs across San Diego County are experiencing delays because of volume and limited supplies. Currently, test results take up to five days after receipt of samples. If the sample is positive, Sharp will notify Public Health Services and a care plan will be determined.

  4. Can anyone be tested for coronavirus?
    Not everyone will be tested for coronavirus. While testing supplies have increased, we need to protect against shortages that could result if we test everyone. People who think they need to be tested should call their primary care doctor. If appropriate, your doctor will advise you on where to go for testing.

  5. When will Sharp get more tests?
    Sharp has established relationships with independent laboratories to help increase testing capacity and decrease test result time. Additionally, we have established the technology platform for internal COVID-19 testing and are awaiting more test kits and chemical reagents to become available to process test samples. Internal COVID-19 testing will allow for turnaround of results in approximately 24 hours.

  6. Where do I get the test if I don't have insurance?
    If you have a primary care doctor, we suggest that you contact your doctor to be evaluated. Not every patient will be tested for coronavirus, so we recommend that you receive an evaluation by a doctor before coming to the hospital or an urgent care center. 
If you do not have a primary care doctor, Sharp HealthCare offers referrals to low- or no-cost community clinics. Call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277).

Learn more about what Sharp HealthCare is doing to respond to COVID-19.

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