Frequently asked questions about COVID-19 testing
When it comes to your health, it’s important to have all the answers. Read on for more detailed answers to some of the most common questions about COVID-19 testing.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 (formally known as 2019-nCoV) is the name for the respiratory syndrome caused by infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, loss of smell, coughing, sore throat, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, feeling weak or lethargic, chills, muscle pain, lightheadedness or dizziness, headache, vomiting or diarrhea, slurred speech, and/or seizures.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers many resources on COVID-19, including symptoms.
Does Quest provide testing for COVID-19?
Yes. Quest is one of the labs processing the complex COVID-19 testing during this public health emergency.
For diagnosis of an active COVID-19 infection, you need to contact a doctor or authorized healthcare provider to have a test specimen collected by nose or throat swab. You cannot go to a Quest patient service center for active infection testing. You may also consider finding a testing location through national partnerships we have with Walmart, CVS Health or find local testing options through Google.
For COVID-19 antibody testing, you can make an appointment at a Quest patient service center if you have a doctor’s order or if you purchased the test through QuestDirect™. You must also have been symptom-free for at least 10 days.
Is Quest increasing its testing capacity to meet demand?
Yes. Quest has steadily increased COVID-19 testing capacity to meet the growing demand from patients, hospitals and healthcare providers in our communities.
How do I know if I have COVID-19?
If you suspect you may have COVID-19, contact your doctor or an authorized healthcare provider immediately for guidance. Your healthcare provider can review your symptoms to determine what testing is appropriate. If COVID-19 diagnostic testing for active infection makes sense for you, your healthcare provider will direct you where to get tested. Diagnostic testing includes collecting your specimens (for example, nose or throat swab). Your respiratory specimens will be sent to Quest for advanced testing to determine if you are positive for COVID-19 or not.
How do I know if I’m recovered from COVID-19?
Recovery from COVID-19 is typically considered after it has been at least 7 days from the start of your first symptoms, and at least 3 days without a fever, and all other symptoms have improved.
Additionally, an antibody test may be able to detect if you have previously had an infection—even if you never experienced symptoms. At this time, it is unknown for how long antibodies will last after infection and if the antibodies will give you protective immunity.
How do I get tested for COVID-19?
If you suspect you may have COVID-19, contact your doctor or an authorized healthcare provider immediately for guidance. Your healthcare provider can review your symptoms to determine what appropriate testing is needed. If COVID-19 testing makes sense for you, your healthcare provider will direct you where to get tested, which includes collecting your specimens (for example, nose or throat swab). Your respiratory specimens will be sent to a lab, such as Quest, for advanced testing.
If you may have already been exposed to COVID-19, you may be eligible for antibody testing. To get tested for COVID-19 antibodies, you can order the test for yourself via QuestDirect. This allows you to get tested without waiting to go your doctor first. Or, you can reach out to your doctor or healthcare provider and have them submit an order for your test. Learn more about antibody testing options.
How do I get COVID-19 test results?
Typically, the quickest way to get your test results is having them sent to you automatically through your secure MyQuest online portal. If you don’t already have a MyQuest account, signing up is free and easy.
Can I go to a Quest patient service center to be tested for COVID-19?
It depends on the type of test you need.
Testing for active COVID-19 infection is not performed at Quest patient service centers. If you suspect you have COVID-19, contact your doctor or an authorized healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider will guide you on where in your community to get tested for an active infection. You may also consider finding a testing location through national partnerships we have with Walmart, CVS Health or find local testing options through Google. Active infection testing includes collecting your test specimens, usually through a nose or throat swab. Those respiratory specimens are then sent to labs like Quest to process the tests.
Testing for COVID-19 antibodies can be performed at Quest patient service centers with an appointment if you have been symptom-free for at least 10 days. You must have a doctor’s order or purchase the test through QuestDirect to make an appointment for COVID-19 antibody testing.
Is it safe to go to a Quest patient service center for other testing services not related to COVID-19?
Quest has strong safety procedures in place at all times. These protect patients and employees from coming into contact with any infectious diseases. During the COVID-19 public health crisis, we have taken more precautions with our new Peace of Mind program that makes it easier to access the testing you need from Quest.
Peace of Mind measures include:
- Providing gloves to patients to use touchscreen kiosks
- Requiring face masks for all patients and employees
- Disinfecting all surfaces more frequently
- Dedicating the first hour of each day to vulnerable patients who are 60 years of age or older, pregnant, or have underlying medical conditions
- Offering a text alert option that allows patients to wait for appointments outside
- Limiting the number of people in the waiting room
- Mandating enhanced COVID-19 safety training for employees
- Equipping employees with additional personal protective equipment
- Washing hands more frequently for at least 20 seconds
- Using a no-contact technique to check patients’ temperatures upon entry
Also, patients who suspect they have active COVID-19 should not come to our patient service centers. They should contact their doctor or an authorized healthcare provider.
Learn more about the Peace of Mind program at Quest.
Can I order this test online for myself?
It depends on the type of test you need.
Testing for an active COVID-19 infection cannot be ordered online. If you suspect you have COVID-19, contact your doctor or an authorized healthcare provider. If testing is right for you, your healthcare provider will direct you where to get tested, which includes collecting your test specimens, usually through a nose or throat swab. Those respiratory specimens are then sent to labs like Quest to process the tests.
Testing for COVID-19 immune response can be purchased online through QuestDirect, if you have been symptom-free for at least 10 days. Once the test is purchased, you can make an appointment at a Quest patient service center.
Does Quest have experience with testing for emerging infectious diseases?
Yes, Quest has a history of providing advanced infectious disease testing during public health emergencies. Quest was the first national commercial provider to offer Zika and 2009 H1N1 influenza testing, which was emergency-use authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Today, Quest brings that same level of urgency and care to COVID-19 testing for you and your family. Learn more about infectious disease testing.
The antibody tests (sometimes known as the serology tests or IgG tests) are intended for use as an aid in identifying individuals with an adaptive immune response to SARS-CoV-2, indicating recent or prior infection. Results are for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. IgG antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 are generally detectable in blood several days after initial infection, although the duration of time antibodies are present post-infection is not well characterized. At this time, it is unknown for how long antibodies persist following infection and if the presence of antibodies confers protective immunity. Individuals may have detectable virus present for several weeks following seroconversion. Negative results do not preclude acute SARS-CoV-2 infection. If acute infection is suspected, molecular testing for SARS-CoV-2 is necessary. The antibody test should not be used to diagnose acute SARS-CoV-2 infection. False positive results for the antibody test may occur due to cross-reactivity from pre-existing antibodies or other possible causes.
- The antibody tests and the molecular tests (together “All tests”) have not been FDA cleared or approved;
- All tests have been authorized by FDA under EUAs for use by authorized laboratories;
- The antibody tests have been authorized only for the detection of IgG antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, not for any other viruses or pathogens;
- The molecular tests have been authorized only for the detection of nucleic acid from SARS-CoV-2, not for any other viruses or pathogens; and,
- All tests are only authorized for the duration of the declaration that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of emergency use of in vitro diagnostics for detection and/or diagnosis of COVID-19 under Section 564(b)(1) of the Act, 21 U.S.C. § 360bbb-3(b)(1), unless the authorization is terminated or revoked sooner.