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Health - Public Health News

Posted on: March 5, 2020

Testing for COVID-19

People have a lot of questions about testing for COVID-19. It is understandable because the recommendations for who should get tested continue to change frequently based on the situational update, and most importantly, on the capacity to test at labs. Thankfully, not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19.

If you have mild respiratory symptoms, you may not need to seek medical care and do not need to be tested. To date, the wide majority (84%) of people with COVID-19 have been shown to recover without the need for testing or treatment.

Testing decisions are made by health care providers and public health officials. At this time, testing is most appropriate for:

  • People with symptoms of a lower respiratory tract infection like a severe cough that may produce mucus (phlegm) or cause shortness of breath, chest tightness, and wheezing when exhaling. 

  • Those who have had close contact with a confirmed case.

  • Those who have recently traveled to an affected geographic region.

In Washington State, the Washington State Public Health Lab and the University of Washington Virology Lab have been testing, and it is likely more labs will be certified to test in the near future. All tests run within the public health system will continue to use the criteria outlined by the CDC for testing. Tests run at the University of Washington Virology Lab and commercial labs will be ordered based on a health care provider’s assessment of symptoms and risk for the disease.

For more information, visit the Washington State Department of Health Testing webpage.

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