Testing & Quarantine
We rely on testing to detect COVID in infected people. Yet we have to understand that not all tests are equal, and the timing of the testing is important for accuracy. In other words, a negative test does not necessarily mean you do not have COVID. The PCR and rapid antigen tests check for current illness, and antibody tests check for past infections.
Scheduling a COVID Test
We only use Yale for COVID testing. They use the PCR method (NAATs) which is more reliable than the antigen testing done at Urgicenters. The turnaround for results varies, generally 24 hours.
To make the process easier, you must set up your own Yale MyChart account if not done so already. For children under 18 years of age, you must set up a proxy chart for your child; see MyChart Proxy Access. With this, you will have direct access to test results when they become available. If you need help setting up the proxy MyChart, call (203) 688-5101.
If your child has symptoms (chills, fever, sore throat, runny nose, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, loss of smell or taste, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting, or diarrhea), we will first need to do a Telemedicine video visit prior to ordering a COVID test. For asymptomatic patients, pre-procedure patients, or patients exposed to COVID without symptoms, we will put the order into the Yale EPIC ordering system. Unless we tell you a specific time, please wait 2 to 3 hours after the request was made to call the Yale hotline at (203) 688-1700 or (833) 275-9644 to schedule the test.
Recently, Yale has begun permitting self-scheduling by parents on behalf of children. We do not have access to those results. Please call us and send us a copy of any positive result that was obtained through self-scheduling. If your school-age child has symptoms, schools are requesting the PCR test be done.
It Is Strongly Recommended That the Following Individuals Get Tested:
- People who have symptoms of COVID-19 (see below).
- People who have had close contact (within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) with someone with confirmed COVID-19.
- People who have taken part in activities that put them at higher risk for COVID-19 because they cannot socially distance as needed, such as travel, attending large social or mass gatherings, or being in crowded indoor settings.
- People who have been asked or referred to get testing by their healthcare provider, local or state health department.
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness – which may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.
Types of Viral Tests
Viral tests look for current infections. Specimens are taken from your nose to find out if you are currently infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Two types of viral tests can be used:
- Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs), also known as PCR tests, detect the virus’s genetic material and are commonly used in laboratories. NAATs are generally more accurate, but sometimes take longer to process than other test types.
- Antigen tests, sometimes referred to as “rapid antigen tests,” detect viral proteins and are generally not as sensitive as NAATs, particularly if the antigen test is used on someone without COVID-19 symptoms. It is more likely to miss an infection or provide a false negative result in comparison to a molecular test. If you have a positive or negative antigen test, your healthcare provider may need to confirm the test result with a molecular test such as NAAT or PCR test.
Your COVID Test Results
If you test positive for COVID-19:
- Most people have mild COVID-19 illness and can recover at home without medical care. Contact your healthcare provider if your symptoms get worse or if you have questions about your health.
- Please refer to the CDC for the most up to date recommendations for quarantining.
If you test negative for COVID-19:
- You probably were not infected at the time your sample was collected. This does not mean you will not get sick; a negative test result only means that you did not have COVID-19 at the time of testing or that your sample was collected too early in your infection.
- You could also be exposed to COVID-19 after the test and then get infected and spread the virus to others.
- If you have symptoms later, you may need another test to determine if you are infected with COVID-19.
Quarantining has been an essential part of preventing spread in the community. The CDC has guidelines that have been modified as more information has been available.
Antibody or serology tests look for antibodies in your blood to determine if you had a past infection with the virus that causes COVID-19.
Antibodies are proteins created by your body’s immune system soon after you have been infected or vaccinated. They help you fight off infections and can protect you from getting that disease again. How long this protection may last is different for each disease and each person.
Antibody tests should not be used to diagnose a current infection with the virus that causes COVID-19, except in instances in which viral testing is delayed. An antibody test may not show if you have a current infection because it can take 1–3 weeks after the infection for your body to make antibodies.
Currently we are not routinely ordering antibody tests for our pediatric patients. If we are considering it, we prefer the ROCHE test provided by LabCorp for its sensitivity in detecting antibodies.
We do not know how much protection (immunity) antibodies to the virus might provide against getting infected again. Confirmed and suspected cases of reinfection have been reported, but remain rare. Scientists are working to understand this.