Across the country, the number of coronavirus cases is rising steadily as more people have access to COVID-19 testing. While each state is handling the rollout of coronavirus testing differently and releasing guidelines separately, the medical process of the test itself varies little, if at all.
What Are the Guidelines for COVID-19 Testing In AR?
Your healthcare provider will be able to provide you with detailed guidance about when and how to get tested for the novel coronavirus. Testing is an important step in fighting the rise of the pandemic because it allows us to identify those individuals who test positive and provide them with the proper treatment. If you test positive for COVID-19, your healthcare provider will likely recommend self-isolation to prevent spreading the virus to your friends, family, and members of your community.
Know Your Symptoms
The first step to determining if you have contracted COVID-19 is to examine your symptoms. Contact your primary care physician to schedule an appointment for testing if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Fever or chills,
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing,
- Muscle or body aches,
- New loss of taste or smell,
- Sore throat,
- Congestion or runny nose,
- Nausea or vomiting, or
In severe cases of COVID-19, the infected individual may exhibit extreme symptoms. If you or your loved one exhibits any of these emergency warning signs of COVID-19, seek emergency medical care immediately:
- Trouble breathing,
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest,
- New confusion,
- Inability to wake up or stay awake, or
- Bluish lips or face.
These symptoms will appear within two to fourteen days of exposure to the coronavirus. However, many people who contract COVID-19 are asymptomatic, which means they show no symptoms even though they are infected. It is also possible to infect others with the virus even if your symptoms have not appeared yet. If you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for coronavirus, you should also be tested to receive treatment and prevent spreading the virus.
Call Ahead Before Visiting Your Doctor for COVID-19 Testing in AR
If you believe you may have coronavirus, call your doctor before making an appointment and inform them of your concerns. This will help the clinic take the necessary steps to keep other patients from being exposed or infected. They may have special procedures, entrances, or locations dedicated to COVID-19 testing and treatment.
Be sure to follow any special instructions you receive from your doctor’s office. If you believe you may be infected with COVID-19, you should wear a facemask around other people and when visiting your healthcare provider.
How Does Corona Testing Work?
Step 1: The Swab
Testing for the novel coronavirus involves the insertion of a 6-inch long swab into the cavity between your nose and mouth. The swab, called a nasopharyngeal swab, will look a lot like a very long Q-tip. Swabbing lasts about fifteen seconds, and the swab will be rotated several times to ensure the sample is gathered successfully.
Step 2: The Lab
Once the swab has been completed, the sample will be inserted into a container, sealed and labeled, and sent to the lab for testing.
Step 3: Waiting for Results
Test results can take anywhere from 24-48 hours to complete. If the volume of testing in your area is particularly high, it may take a few business days to get your results. Until you have confirmation, you can keep yourself and others safe by self-isolating, wearing a face mask around family members and pets, and washing your hands frequently.
Does Coronavirus Testing Hurt?
Coronavirus testing does not hurt. Having a swab inserted deeply into your nasal passage is an unfamiliar sensation and many people report mild levels of discomfort. Some people’s eyes tear up involuntarily, but this is a natural bodily reflex and not tears caused by pain.
What Should I Do If I Test Negative For Coronavirus?
If your test results come back negative, you do not have to do anything special. Just keep taking safety precautions, limit your possibility of exposure, and wear a facemask around other people.
What Should I Do If I Test Positive for COVID-19?
If you test positive for COVID-19, your doctor will let you know how you should proceed. If you have mild symptoms and do not require special treatment or hospitalization, you will likely be sent home to self-quarantine. If you live alone, you will be able to move freely about the house. If you live with others who have not tested positive for the virus, take special safety precautions to keep them safe.
Wear A Facemask
If you test positive for COVID-19, you should wear a facemask when you are around other people — even if you are social distancing. New research suggests droplets can spray much farther than 6 feet when a person coughs or sneezes with an uncovered mouth. Wearing a mask can prevent the spread of virus-carrying droplets in the air and on hard surfaces.
Cover Your Coughs and Sneezes
Even when you are in your room alone, try to cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Immediately throw the tissue away in a wastebasket — preferably one with a lid. If you do not have a tissue, use your elbow or hand to cover your mouth. No matter how you cover your face, wash your hands as soon as possible after sneezing or coughing.
Clean Your Hands Often
Wash your hands often with antibacterial soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds. You can also use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%-95% alcohol. If your hands are visibly dirty, using soap and water is best. Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes with your hands whenever possible.
Clean All High-Touch Surfaces Everyday
High-touch surfaces are those you use daily or often throughout the week. Light switches, doorknobs, tabletops, counters, toilets, phones, keyboards, and bedside tables should all be cleaned with a cleaning spray or wipe daily. Read the instructions on your cleaning supplies for any special instructions to make sure you are using them safely and effectively. Wearing gloves or eye protection, ensuring proper ventilation, and wearing a facemask may all be recommended.
Avoid Sharing Personal or Household Items
Do not share dishes, cups, glasses, utensils, towels, or bed linens with other people in your home. After you use these items, they should be washed thoroughly with soap and hot water. If you are too ill to clean, the person handling your dishes and linens should wear a facemask and gloves while cleaning and then dispose of or disinfect the safety gear immediately after use.
Monitor Your Symptoms
If you notice an increase in the severity of your symptoms, contact your doctor for further advice. You should also watch for symptoms indicating you require emergency care: trouble breathing, blue lips, a high fever that causes dehydration or hallucinations, confusion, or difficulty staying awake. If these occur, seek emergency medical treatment immediately.
Isolation can last longer for some patients than others. Some people will be able to discontinue isolation once they have improved, but those with compromised immune systems or severe symptoms may need to be tested again before leaving quarantine.
Your doctor will be able to give you specific instructions, but in general, the guidelines for discontinuing isolation (for people who do not require follow-up testing) are as follows:
- You have no fever for at least 5 days (with no fever-reducing medication), AND
- Your cough has improved, and you have no trouble breathing, AND
- At least ten days have passed since the beginning of your symptoms.
You should stay in isolation for at least ten days or five days after your symptoms improve and no fever is present — whichever is longer.
No matter what your case specifics are, you should always act according to your doctor’s recommendations and your local health department’s guidelines for treatment and recovery.
Need COVID-19 Testing in AR?
All ARcare, KentuckyCare, and MississippiCare locations provide coronavirus testing, but it must be performed during a regular established patient visit with your provider. We test both symptomatic and non-symptomatic patients at no cost. We are currently accepting new patients. If you would like to make an appointment, contact your local ARcare clinic or call coordinated care at (870) 347-3461!