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Maternity & Family Benefits

LabCorp & Ovia Health: COVID-19 testing FAQ

June 17, 2020

The information provided below is current as of the date of publication. As always, you should contact your medical provider with any questions or concerns.

LabCorp is a leading global life sciences company with a mission to improve health and improve lives by delivering world-class diagnostics, accelerating the availability of innovative medicines to patients, and harnessing technology to change the way care is delivered. Together, Ovia Health and LabCorp have developed frequently asked questions in regards to COVID-19 testing.

1. Should I be tested for COVID-19?

There are now two types of tests available – a test to determine if you have an infection, and tests to help to identify if you have been exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 (antibody testing).

Testing for a current infection

Not everyone needs to be tested for the COVID-19 virus. Here is some information that might help you make decisions about seeking medical care or testing:

Most people have a mild illness and are able to recover at home without medical care. They may not need to be tested.

  • At this time, there is no treatment specifically approved for people who have COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control has guidance for who should be tested, but decisions about testing are at the discretion of state and local health departments or individual clinicians.

  • Your healthcare provider can decide to order a test from an independent commercial laboratory (such as LabCorp) or may choose to work with state or local health department to coordinate testing through a public health laboratory.

If you develop any of these emergency warning signs* for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not exhaustive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Call 911 if you have a medical emergency. Notify the operator that you have, or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a cloth face covering before medical help arrives.

Antibody testing 

COVID-19 antibody blood tests detect the presence of antibodies to the virus and can help identify individuals who have been exposed to the virus. While antibody tests are helpful to understand if an individual has developed antibodies and a potential immune response, antibody testing should not be used as the sole basis to diagnose or exclude infection.

A positive serologic result indicates that an individual has likely produced an immune response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Although having antibodies usually gives immunity from further infection, there is not enough evidence at this time to suggest that people who have antibodies against the virus that caused COVID-19 are protected against future infections from the virus.

A negative serologic result indicates that an individual has not developed detectable antibodies at the time of testing. While contingent on a variety of factors, this result could be due to testing too early in the course of COVID-19, the absence of exposure to the virus, or the lack of an adequate immune response, which can be due to conditions or treatments that suppress immune function. 

2. What should I expect when I get a coronavirus test to find out if I have an infection?

If you have contacted your healthcare provider for testing to determine if you have an infection, the provider will put on protective clothes, mask and face shield, and then collect samples. This involves swabbing the inside of the person’s nose with a skinny swab that is long enough to reach the nasopharynx – which is the upper part of the throat, behind the nose. The mildly uncomfortable process, which is the same used to test for influenza, takes just a few seconds.

The healthcare provider then packages the samples according to the testing laboratory’s instructions, and the samples are shipped to a laboratory. Some hospitals have testing labs on site. The laboratory tests the specimens for the presence of the new coronavirus, which causes COVID-19. The laboratory reports the test results to the provider and the public health authorities when applicable. More information from Johns Hopkins. 

If you have requested and are eligible (based on a short questionnaire) for an at-home collection test kit from Pixel by LabCorp (pixel.labcorp.com), you will receive your collection kit complete with a nasal swab, tube, and a postage-paid pre-addressed FedEx pack. You can send the sample back to the lab using a FedEx dropbox, or refer to the flyer in the kit to schedule a FedEx pickup on the day of collection. You will be able to access your test results through your Pixel by LabCorp account.  You will be prompted to set up an account if you do not already have one.  

3. What are my options for getting a COVID-19 test to assess whether I have an infection?

COVID-19 testing differs by location; however, there are now two ways to get tested.  You can call your healthcare provider to discuss your symptoms and they will advise you as to where to go for testing. They may also give you some special instructions, which might include wearing a mask or going to a certain part of the hospital or clinic. 

You can also now order an at-home collection test kit through Pixel by LabCorp*. LabCorp is now offering the COVID-19 at-home collection test kit as part of the company’s continued commitment to increase the supply and availability of tests for all individuals who meet the screening criteria. The kits can be ordered using the company’s Pixel by LabCorp platform (https://www.pixel.labcorp.com/covid-19). Find out more here

*LabCorp offers its COVID-19 test and at-home collection kit according to an Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that while the laboratory performing this test has validation data to support offering this test and the collection kit, neither has been approved or cleared by the FDA. This test has been authorized only for the detection of nucleic acid from SARS-CoV-2 (i.e., the COVID-19 virus), not for any other viruses or pathogens. The test is only authorized for the duration of the declaration that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of emergency use of in vitro diagnostic tests 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.

4. What are the testing guidelines? Does my healthcare provider need to prescribe a test?

In some states, you may need to have a referral/prescription from your healthcare provider in order to get tested. The CDC provides guidance on the clinical criteria for considering testing for COVID-19, and these criteria are updated periodically as additional information and knowledge about COVID-19 becomes available.

In general, clinicians are advised to use their judgment to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and whether that patient should be tested. Most patients with confirmed COVID-19 have developed fever1 and/or symptoms of acute respiratory illness (e.g., cough, difficulty breathing). The CDC also includes testing criteria for persons without symptoms who are prioritized by health departments or clinicians, for any reason, including but not limited to: public health monitoring, sentinel surveillance, or screening of other asymptomatic individuals according to state and local plans.

Healthcare providers are able to access laboratory testing through a network of state and local public health laboratories across the country. The Association of Public Health Laboratories provides a list of states and territories with laboratories that are using COVID-19 diagnostic tests. For more information, see Testing in U.S. Healthcare providers may also direct testing questions to their state health departments.

There are now also at-home options (see other questions).

5. What is the difference between getting a test at home as opposed to going to my provider?

Viral tests check samples from your respiratory system (such as swabs of the inside of the nose) to tell you if you currently have an infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The primary difference between getting a test at home versus going to your healthcare provider is in how/where you order the test and collect the sample. At-home collection test kits are now being offered through Pixel by LabCorp (Pixel.labcorp.com). The at-home collection kits enable individuals to self-administer sample collections while getting at test through your healthcare provider will require you to have your specimen collected at the provider’s office or collection facility. Whether the test is collected by your healthcare provider or collected at-home, the actual testing (if being performed by LabCorp) is the same laboratory test.

6. What do I do after I am tested positive for COVID-19?

Per guidance from the CDC, if you are sick with COVID-19 or suspect you are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, you should take steps to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community. If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever or other symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider immediately for medical advice.

Stay home except to get medical care.  (Source: www.CDC.gov)

  • Stay home. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care. Do not leave your home, except to get medical care. Do not visit public areas.
  • Take care of yourself. Get rest and stay hydrated.
  • Stay in touch with your healthcare provider. Call before you get medical care. Be sure to get care if you have trouble breathing or if you have any other emergency warning signs.
  • Avoid public transportation, ride-sharing, and taxis.

Separate yourself from other people and pets in your home. (Source: www.CDC.gov)

  • As much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from other people and pets in your home. Use a separate bathroom, if available. If you need to be around other people or animals in or outside of the home, wear a cloth face covering.

If you are sick, wear a cloth covering over your nose and mouth. (Source: www.CDC.gov)

  • You should wear a cloth face covering, over your nose and mouth if you must be around other people or animals, including pets (even at home).
  • You don’t need to wear the cloth face covering if you are alone. If you can’t put on a cloth face covering (because of trouble breathing for example), cover your coughs and sneezes in some other way. Try to stay at least 6 feet away from other people. This will help protect the people around you.

7. When will I be released from isolation or quarantine? (Source: www.CDC.gov)

Isolation and quarantine help protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease.

  • Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.
  • Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who might have been exposed to a contagious disease from others. Quarantine helps prevent the spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms.

Your last day of quarantine is 14 days from when you were last in contact with a person with COVID-19. If you continue to live with and/or care for someone with COVID-19, the quarantine guidance is as follows: 

  • Your quarantine will end 14 days after the household started to follow the Home Isolation Instructions.
  • If there is close contact with a person with COVID-19 (being within 6 feet for more than 10 minutes or there was contact with their body fluids and/or secretions (such as being coughed on/sneezed on, sharing utensils or saliva, or providing care without wearing protective equipment) the 14-day quarantine period will have to restart.
  • If you are unable to avoid close contact, you should stay in quarantine for 14 days after the person with COVID-19 was told they were “cleared” to stop their own isolation. This is likely to be at least 21 days. 
  • If you do not have symptoms, there is no need to get tested. But if you have been tested, you still need to stay in quarantine for the full 14 days, even if your test result is negative. Find more information here

Self-isolation can come to an end when an individual who has not had a test to determine if they are still contagious can answer YES to ALL of the following questions:  

  • Has it been at least 10 days since you first had symptoms?
  • Have you been without a fever for three days (72 hours) without the use of any medicine for fever?
  • Are your other respiratory symptoms, like cough and shortness of breath, improved?

8. What do I do after I am tested negative for COVID-19? Can a person test negative and later test positive for COVID-19?

If you test negative for COVID-19, you probably were not infected at the time your specimen was collected. However, that does not mean you will not get sick. It is possible that you were very early in your infection when your specimen was collected and that you could test positive later. Or you could be exposed later and then develop the illness. In other words, a negative test result does not rule out getting sick later.

A negative test result means that the virus that causes COVID-19 was not found in your sample. For COVID-19, a negative test result for a sample collected while a person has symptoms usually means that COVID-19 did not cause your recent illness. However, it is possible for this test to give a negative result that is incorrect (false negative) in some people with COVID-19. If this is the case, your healthcare provider will consider the test result together with your symptoms, possible exposures, and recent travel as they determine how to care for you. It is important that you work with your healthcare provider to help you understand the next steps you should take. Researchers don’t know yet whether reinfection can occur. Some patients continue to test positive for the virus for a while after their symptoms have gone away. Find more information here and here

9. Is there a treatment specifically approved for COVID-19? 

There are no drugs or other therapeutics approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to prevent or treat COVID-19. Current treatment includes infection prevention and control measures and supportive care, including supplemental oxygen and mechanical ventilator support when indicated.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 or FDA-approved drugs to treat COVID-19. However, several academic and health care organizations, as well as commercial corporations, are working on vaccines. Find more information here.

10. While supplies of these tests are increasing, it may still be difficult to find a place to get tested. How are tests being prioritized?

Healthcare providers are able to access laboratory testing through a network of state and local public health laboratories across the country. The Association of Public Health Laboratories provides a list of states and territories with laboratories that are using COVID-19 diagnostic tests. For more information, see Testing in the U.S. 

The following populations are prioritized by the CDC for testing: hospitalized patients with symptoms; healthcare facility workers, workers in congregate living settings, and first responders with symptoms; residents in long-term care facilities or other congregate living settings with symptoms; other persons with symptoms, and persons without symptoms who are prioritized by health departments and clinicians, for any reason. 

While contacting your healthcare provider is still an option, you also now have the option to request an at-home collection test kit using Pixel by LabCorp at Pixel.labcorp.com. TheCOVID-19 home collection kit provides everything you need to collect a nasal swab sample and send it back to the lab.

11. Drive-thru coronavirus testing sites are popping up across the country -are they safe?   

In general, yes. In order to keep patients and healthcare providers safe, drive-thru coronavirus testing sites have been set up across the country in the last few weeks. If you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, fatigue, and shortness of breath, here’s how drive-thru testing works and where to find a testing site near you.

Some testing sites are only open to high-risk people, first responders, and medical workers, or members of private healthcare groups. Always check the link or call the number provided before heading to a testing site. If no phone number is provided, try calling your state’s department of health directly.

12. Is the COVID-19 test covered by health insurance? What if I don’t have insurance?

Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers a test to see if you have coronavirus (officially called 2019-novel coronavirus or COVID-19). This test is generally covered when your doctor or other health care provider orders it. 

There is also federal legislation that provides funding to healthcare providers for COVID-19 testing and treatment of uninsured individuals.  

Insurers and the government are making changes to COVID-19 coverage on a frequent basis. The situation will continue to change and develop. Depending on where you live, your state could have different requirements for COVID-19 coverage. Kaiser Family Foundation has aggregated information on state COVID-19 policy actions. These include whether the vaccine will be given for free, whether prior authorization requirements will be waived for treatment, paid sick leave policies, and more. Find more information here

13. Is it safe to get a coronavirus test while pregnant?

We do not currently know if pregnant women have a greater chance of getting sick from COVID-19 than the general public, nor whether they are more likely to have a serious illness as a result. Pregnant women experience changes in their bodies that may increase their risk of some infections. With viruses from the same family as COVID-19, and other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza, women have had a higher risk of developing severe illness. It is always important for pregnant women to protect themselves from illnesses.

Current reports show that pregnant women do not have more severe symptoms than the general public. But researchers are still learning how the illness affects pregnant women. Healthcare providers urge pregnant women to take the same steps as the general public to avoid coronavirus infection.

14. Many people are asymptomatic and test positive; when should I get tested?

If you have a medical emergency such as severe shortness of breath, call 911, and tell them about your symptoms.

Otherwise, call your healthcare provider’s office and discuss your symptoms over the phone. Your healthcare provider will discuss the next steps, including whether you should have a COVID-19 test. For milder cases, your provider will likely recommend that you rest at home and self-quarantine. If you become severely ill, you may need hospital care. If you believe you have been exposed to a person who has tested positive, you may also want to seek medical advice or order –an at-home test. Find more information here

15. What should I know about coronavirus testing and children? Is the test painful?

Based on available evidence, children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults. While some children and infants have been sick with COVID-19, adults make up most of the known cases to date. The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar in children and adults. However, children with confirmed COVID-19 have generally shown mild symptoms, with a small number of recently reported exceptions. Reported symptoms in children include cold-like symptoms, such as fever, runny nose, and cough. Vomiting and diarrhea have also been reported.

The CDC continues to update its guidance on specimen collection. Current guidance recommends a sample from the upper respiratory tract, including a nasopharyngeal swab (a swab taken through the nose that collects a sample from the back of the nose and the throat) and a nasal swab. If oral swabs are taken, they should be combined with the nasal swab. The goal of these samples is to detect the virus in the upper respiratory tract.

16. If I test positive, should my baby be tested for coronavirus too?

Based on current research, it is not likely that COVID-19 passes to a baby during pregnancy, labor, or delivery. But more research is needed on this. After birth, a newborn can get the virus if they are exposed to it. Find more information here

17. Is it possible to become re-infected with COVID-19 after having it? 

Currently, those at greatest risk of infection are persons who have had prolonged, unprotected close contact with a patient with symptomatic, confirmed COVID-19, and those who live in or have recently been to areas with sustained transmission. For more information, see this Risk Assessment

There remains a lot of uncertainty, but some experts say that reports of reinfection may be associated with patients who appeared to have recovered but had a lingering infection

18. Can babies be infected with COVID-19?

We are still learning about this new virus. Based on available evidence, children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults. While some children and infants have been sick with COVID-19, adults make up most of the known cases to date. You can learn more about who is at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 here. The youngest COVID-19 patients were 3 to 4 weeks old in this source.

Like adults, babies, and children with COVID-19 can have a fever, cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing, and diarrhea. Children with COVID-19 generally have a milder illness and rarely require treatment at a hospital, but in a few reported cases, very young babies have become seriously ill with pneumonia due to infection with the new coronavirus. 

19. Do I have to have symptoms before I can be tested for COVID-19? If I don't have symptoms can I get tested anyway?

In general, tests for COVID-19 must be ordered, and test specimens for COVID-19 must be collected by a physician or other healthcare provider. They will use their judgment to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and whether the patient should be tested. Most patients with confirmed COVID-19 have developed fever1 and/or symptoms of acute respiratory illness (e.g., cough, difficulty breathing).

If you have concerns that you may have been exposed to COVID-19, you can now order an at-home collection test kit using Pixel by LabCorp at Pixel.labcorp.com. These COVID-19 home collection test kits provide everything you need to collect a nasal swab sample and send it back to the lab.

20. If I test positive for COVID-19, does everyone in my house need to get tested? 

The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads from person-to-person. People are thought to be most contagious when they show symptoms (when they are sickest). That is why the CDC recommends that these people are isolated either in the hospital or at home (depending on how sick they are) until they are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others. More recently, the virus has also been detected in asymptomatic persons (people without symptoms).

How long someone is actively sick can vary, so the decision on when to release someone from isolation is made using a test-based or non-test-based strategy (i.e., time since illness started and time since recovery) in consultation with state and local public health officials. The decision involves considering the specifics of each situation, including disease severity, illness signs and symptoms, and the results of laboratory testing for that patient.

Learn more about CDC’s guidance on when to release someone from isolation and discharge hospitalized patients with COVID-19. For information on when someone who has been sick with COVID-19  can stop home isolation see Interim Guidance for Discontinuation of In-Home Isolation for Patients with COVID-19.

Someone who has been released from isolation is not considered to pose a risk of infection to others.

21. Are there any at-home treatments for COVID-19 that I should trust?

Most people who become sick with COVID-19 will only experience mild illness and can recover at home. Symptoms might last a few days, and people who have the virus might feel better in about a week. Treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms and includes rest, fluid intake and pain relievers.

However, contacting your healthcare provider is the most sensible option.

If you develop any of these emergency warning signs* for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not exhaustive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Call 911 if you have a medical emergency: Notify the operator that you have, or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a cloth face covering before medical help arrives.

22. Are there any at-home tests for COVID-19 that I can trust?

LabCorp is now offering the COVID-19 at-home collection test kit as part of the company’s continued commitment to increase the supply and availability of tests for all individuals who meet the screening criteria for COVID-19 testing. The kits can be ordered using the company’s Pixel by LabCorp platform; find out more here: https://www.pixel.labcorp.com/covid-19

*The FDA has authorized Pixel by LabCorp as an at-home collection COVID-19 test kit under an Emergency Use Authorization. The test has not been reviewed or approved by the FDA.

23. Are there enough tests in the US?

Laboratory testing is being conducted in a variety of settings including hospitals, public health laboratories, and clinical laboratories. Your healthcare provider can consult with a local or state health department or the commercial labs that perform the provider’s laboratory testing services. 

24. Where can I go to get tested to see if I have COVID-19?

LabCorp, along with other industry partners, are quickly working on supporting the United States to get back on its feet by increasing access to nationwide testing for COVID-19.

There are now two ways to get tested for COVID-19. You can call your healthcare provider to discuss your symptoms, they will advise you as to where to go for testing and they may give you some special instructions which might include wearing a mask or going to a certain part of the hospital or clinic. You can also visit Pixel, by LabCorp at www.pixel.labcorp.com to order an at-home collection test kit.

Healthcare providers can consult with their local or state health department or the labs that perform their diagnostic services. 

25. Are labs still performing the testing I might need during pregnancy outside of COVID-19 testing? Is it safe to get my blood tested to support my early pregnancy visit to my doctor?

Yes, and those routine tests and blood work appointments are so important to keep for good overall health. If your healthcare provider recommends it, it is still important for you to continue to have laboratory testing during this time.

Telehealth appointments may replace some of your in-person OB check-ups. Telehealth has been around for a long time, but it’s more popular than ever during the pandemic. Experts in OB care are learning that if you have a healthy pregnancy, it is often safer for you to use telehealth for some appointments during this time of social distancing. And your provider will also be able to advise alternate ways, such as using a commercial laboratory with blood drawing facilities.

26. Should I still be getting my pregnancy-related lab testing done during this time?

As coronavirus infections continue to spread, it is a good idea to call your obstetrician, gynecologist, or other health care provider to ask how your visits may be changed. Some women may have fewer or more spaced out in-person visits, or telehealth appointments.

If you have a visit scheduled, your care team’s office may call you ahead of time. They may tell you about telemedicine or make sure you do not have symptoms of COVID-19 if you are going into the office. You also can call them before your visits if you do not hear from them. 

You’ve read you should stay home as much as possible since this virus can spread easily from person to person. This is true, but your prenatal appointments are still important! These visits are vital opportunities for your provider to assess the health of your pregnancy and identify any issues that might affect you or your developing baby. Some healthcare providers are offering some appointments virtually or spreading out the time between appointments a bit longer than normal. But there are times that you will have to be seen in person, especially for screenings, labs, and vaccines, such as the flu shot and Tdap vaccine that help protect both mom and baby against serious illness. Find more information here and here

27. I have heard there are new tests for antibodies to the COVID virus (a serology test). Why would I need a Serologic test? 

COVID-19 antibody blood tests detect the presence of antibodies to the virus and can help identify individuals who may have been exposed to the virus. While antibody tests are helpful to understand if an individual has developed antibodies and a potential immune response, antibody testing should not be used as the sole basis to diagnose or exclude infection.

28. How can I get an antibody (serology) test?

The COVID-19 antibody test is now available for individuals through LabCorp.com. Individuals can access the COVID-19 IgG antibody test from their healthcare provider, in person or through a telemedicine program, and now directly using LabCorp.com. LabCorp.com offers a convenient option that uses an independent physician service, PWNHealth, to determine if an individual is eligible for the test following the completion of a short, simple health questionnaire. Individuals who meet PWNHealth’s criteria can have their blood drawn at one of nearly 2,000 Patient Service Center locations across the country, including one of our 100 LabCorp at Walgreens locations by appointment or walk-in. Test results can be accessed using the LabCorp PatientTM Portal* and individuals can consult with an independent licensed healthcare provider from PWNHealth. The test only requires payment of a handling fee of $10, and results are typically available in a few days. 

(*register for free at https://patient.labcorp.com/)

29. What does a positive serology test result mean? 

A positive serologic result indicates that an individual has likely produced an immune response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Confirmation of infection with SARS-CoV-2 must be made through a combination of clinical evaluation and other applicable tests. Decisions about ongoing monitoring, treatment, or return to normal activities for patients being treated for suspected infection with SARS-CoV-2 should also be made in accordance with guidance from public health authorities. 

30. What does a negative serologic test result mean?

A negative serologic result indicates that an individual has not developed detectable antibodies at the time of testing. While contingent on a variety of factors, this could be due to testing too early in the course of COVID-19, the absence of exposure to the virus, or the lack of an adequate immune response, which could be due to conditions or treatments that suppress immune function. 

Confirmation of infection with SARS-CoV-2 must be made through a combination of clinical evaluation and other applicable tests. Decisions about ongoing monitoring, treatment, or return to normal activities for patients being treated for suspected infection with SARS-CoV-2 should also be made in accordance with guidance from public health authorities.