What is the COVID-19 test? What should I expect?
Patients have a swab – think of it as a long Q-tip – inserted through their nose to collect cells from the nasopharyngeal region.
Once the sample is taken, it is put into a sterile container and sent to a lab, where a chemical is used to pull the cells off the swab and turn the sample into a liquid form. That liquid is then put into a machine that goes through hot and cold cycles to make multiple copies of the virus’ ribonucleic acid (RNA), which carries genetic information. The machine looks to match the coronavirus RNA to determine a positive or negative result.
The availability of test results can vary from 48 hours to a four or five day wait.
Your testing site will tell you approximately how long it will take and how you will get the results of your test.
What happens if I am diagnosed with COVID-19?
There is currently no FDA approved treatment for COVID-19. However, your doctor will recommend ways to manage your symptoms.
Some people may be hospitalized, especially if they are having respiratory issues.
For those that have manageable symptoms, we recommend staying at home. Here are some tips:
- Monitor the patient’s symptoms. If the patient is getting sicker, call his or her health care provider and tell them that the patient has laboratory-confirmed COVID-19.
- Household members should stay in another room or be separated from the patient as much as possible — think of it as a designated “sick room.” Household members should use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if available.
- Prohibit visitors who do not have an essential need to be in the home.
For more tips, visit the CDC website.
How can I prevent getting or spreading COVID-19?
The best ways to stop the spread of COVID-19 is to practice good hygiene and social distancing. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. You should do this especially after being in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact with other people, especially those who are sick.
Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who at higher risk of getting very sick.
Who is at higher risk of getting sick?
Because this is a new, or novel, virus virtually everyone is at risk for getting infected. The current data shows that individuals over 65 and anyone with underlying health conditions are at greater risk of severe illness. However, people of all ages have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Even people in their 20s, 30s and 40s have had serious symptoms from the disease.
In South Carolina, the age range for COVID-19 has been 2 months to 93 years old according to data from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Everyone should follow guidelines from the CDC to prevent the spread of COVID-19.