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You’ve been tested for COVID-19. Now what?

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                                                                                                                                                      Photo: Getty Images

We are closely monitoring the COVID-19 (formerly known as the novel coronavirus) outbreak in the United States. Together with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we use the latest guidelines to screen and test for COVID-19.

If your doctor has tested you for COVID-19, you likely have questions about next steps:

Why was I tested for COVID-19?

Your doctor recommended testing for COVID-19 because you are showing signs of possibly having COVID-19. These include fever, cough and difficulty breathing.

In addition, you may have:

  • Lived in or recently traveled to a place with a confirmed case of COVID-19, and/or

  • Been in close contact with someone who has, or is suspected of having, COVID-19.

We tested you to help find out whether you have COVID-19. Testing criteria change often, and we use the latest available guidelines from state health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

What does a positive result mean?

Testing positive means that you have COVID-19.

A health care professional will contact you as soon as the results are available to discuss next steps. Please contact your doctor’s office if you think you are getting sicker while you wait for the results.

Treatment may include staying home (home-quarantine/  self-quarantine) to avoid spreading the virus to others.

What does a negative result mean?

A negative test result means that COVID-19 was not found in your sample. If you were tested for COVID-19 based on your symptoms, COVID-19 was not the cause of those symptoms.

A negative test result likely means you don't have COVID19. Your doctor will look at your test result along with other things, such as your symptoms, possible exposures and recent travel, to determine your care and next steps.

What should I do while I wait for my test results?

Your health care team will work with you on next steps. They will likely ask you to stay home. As much as possible, you should stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home. You should also use a separate bathroom, if you have one.

The CDC also recommends that you:

  • Wear a face mask when around other people.

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.

  • Avoid sharing common household items.

  • Wash your hands frequently.

  • Clean surfaces you touch often, such as tabletops, doorknobs, sinks and light switches, every day.

How will I find out about my test results?

Your care team at VCU Health will contact you with the results.