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Posted on: June 6, 2020

Yes, you can get tested for COVID-19.

Everyone with symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested as soon as possible. If you think you have symptoms, or if you’ve been exposed to someone who has received a positive test result, please follow these steps to get tested right away. Testing as soon as possible after symptoms appear is important to prevent COVID-19 from spreading to friends, family and the community. And while waiting for results, do as much as possible to prevent potentially spreading the illness to others.

Who should get tested?

We advise the following individuals get tested for COVID-19.

  • Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19, even if they’re mild. 
  • Household members and close contacts of people who have been confirmed to have COVID-19.
  • Individuals living at or working in congregate settings who could have been exposed to a COVID-19 outbreak. This includes residential communities, but also shared workspaces, where people may be close together for longer than 15 minutes.

What are the symptoms?

We’re learning more about this new illness all the time, and the list of symptoms has grown. Here is the full list of possible symptoms:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Other less common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

If you have any of the above symptoms, you should make arrangements for a test. Some people who are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 will not develop symptoms at all. Feeling fine doesn’t mean you are not contagious. If you think you were exposed, even if you don’t feel sick, please arrange for a test so you can be sure. 

Why get tested?

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, or if you spent time in the last couple of weeks with someone who has now been diagnosed with COVID-19, you should get tested. Knowing your status is important so that you can take the right measures to prevent getting others sick. Even if symptoms are mild, or not there at all, you should still connect with the healthcare system so that we can do our work to prevent another outbreak. And remember, it can take up to two weeks before symptoms even appear.

Playing the guessing game with your health is dangerous. Not only for yourself, but also for the community. It’s possible that a mild illness will get worse, and it’s important to have professionals keep an eye on how your body is responding to the illness. When it comes to your personal health, it’s better to know what is happening. If you’re walking around with a case of COVID-19 (whether you feel sick or not), you are putting yourself and your community at risk.

How to get a test

There are lots of people working to make this as easy as possible. Knowing how the illness is spreading and making an informed response is important for public health reasons, for economic reasons, and for many other reasons, too. In other words, there are lots of reasons for people to help you get tested. How you get tested though, depends on how you access medical care. 

If you have a regular doctor already

If you have a regular doctor or are an established patient at a health clinic, call them and let them know that you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and you want to get tested. They should be able to walk you through the process from there. They may set you up to speak with a doctor or nurse for more info, or maybe just connect you with a testing center. You’ll schedule an appointment and then go in for your sample collection, either at the regular clinic location or at a testing site. Results will probably be available in the next day or two. All copays, coinsurance and deductibles will be waived for testing services. There should be no cost to you as a patient.

If you don’t already have a doctor’s office where you get medical care, but you do have health insurance

If you don’t have a doctor that you’ve been seeing in the past, now is a good time to get a doctor. If you have health insurance, it’s easiest to either call your insurance provider or to check their website to learn which doctors are in their provider network. Once you have a list, call an office and let them know you’d like to become a patient, and that you’re worried you might have COVID-19. They’ll ask you a few questions, but should be able to get you set up with an appointment to get tested. All copays, coinsurance and deductibles will be waived for testing services. You may also contact an urgent care center and let them know you’d like a test. There should be no cost to you as a patient.

If you don’t already have a doctor’s office, and you don’t have insurance either

We encourage people without health insurance to sign up for insurance at www.wahealthplanfinder.org. Most people without insurance will qualify for one of their plans. After you enroll in a health plan, contact a doctor’s office in that insurance provider’s network to get connected with testing services. If you need a test more quickly, or if you can’t enroll in a health plan, you still can get tested. In the rare case that you’re not qualified for health insurance, please call the Whatcom County Health Department at 360-778-6100 for help. There should be no cost to you as a patient, whether you have insurance or not.

After the test

While you’re waiting for your results, it’s important that you remain at home. You may be infectious and it’s important you don’t infect others. If we can prevent people who have tested positive from spreading the virus to others, we will be able to keep the community safer and get back to work sooner.

More information about testing can be found on the Washington State Department of Health website.

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