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COVID-19 Updates
Coronavirus

Testing for COVID-19

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the virus, you may need to receive a COVID-19 test. Your provider will evaluate your concerns and determine whether a COVID-19 test is appropriate.

In the Kansas City metro area, we perform tests by appointment only. Contact your primary care provider with a same-day appointment request or visit urgent care.

Receiving your COVID-19 test results

Our team will do everything possible to provide your test results within 48 hours. We will contact you by phone or through MyChart when your results are available. MyChart is the fastest way to receive your results. If you do not have a MyChart patient portal account, sign up now.

It is important to isolate at home while waiting for your test results. Until you have them, please behave as though you tested positive in order to contain the spread of the virus and protect those around you.

Other COVID-19 testing locations

For testing sites outside of The University of Kansas Health System, explore the following resources:

COVID-19 testing FAQ

  • If you have COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the virus, you may need to receive a COVID-19 test.

  • Yes. During a PCR test, the clinician will swab the back of your nasal passage. Having recently eaten will not prevent testing.

  • It is extremely important that you quarantine between getting tested and learning your test results. Please stay at home, wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face, clean high-touch surfaces and maintain at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others.

    If you are being tested in preparation for a scheduled surgery or procedure, you should remain in quarantine until you receive that care.

  • We will contact you by phone or through MyChart when your test results are available. MyChart is the fastest way to receive your results. If you do not have a MyChart account, sign up now.

    If you receive a positive test result before a planned surgery or procedure, contact your care team. You may or may not be able to have surgery, and we’ll guide you through appropriate care. If your test result is negative, we will share next steps in MyChart.

  • Isolate yourself at home and call your primary care provider. If you do not have a primary care provider, you can find a doctor at The University of Kansas Health System. Call 913-588-1227 for assistance. You can also schedule an urgent care video visit on MyChart to connect with a health system doctor from the comfort of your home.

  • Follow these recommended guidelines:

    • Wash hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth.
    • Wear a mask when you are away from home.
    • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces regularly.
    • Practice physical distancing and stay home when sick.
  • A COVID-19 antibody test looks for the presence of antibodies that may indicate a person was at some point infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. To discuss options for antibody testing, contact your primary care provider.

  • You should take an at-home test:

    • Immediately if you have any COVID-19 symptoms
    • At least 5 days after exposure to someone with COVID-19
    • 24 to 48 hours after your first negative at-home test
    • Immediately before a public event or gathering
  • As a rule of thumb, positive results are highly reliable. Negative results, especially if you have symptoms of COVID-19 infection, may not be reliable. An invalid result indicates the at-home test did not work correctly and you’ll need a new test.

Self-testing for COVID-19 infection

There are different types of at-home COVID-19 tests – molecular tests and antigen tests.

Molecular and antigen tests are diagnostic tests that can detect if you have an active COVID-19 infection and need to isolate yourself from others. If you have recently been exposed to someone with COVD-19 and have no symptoms, you may consider taking 1 of these self-tests. Keep in mind no COVID-19 test is reliable until 2 to 14 days after your exposure, as it takes time for the virus to build up in your body.

Samples for the molecular and antigen at-home tests are collected with a nasal or throat swab or saliva by spitting into a tube. While we do not recommend saliva sampling for individual self-testing, there are advantages to saliva sampling for large-scale screening.

Molecular tests detect genetic material from the virus whereas antigen tests detect the presence of a specific viral antigen. Antigen tests are commonly used in the diagnosis of respiratory infections that can lead to illness, including influenza viruses and respiratory syncytial virus.

These tests can be performed in a laboratory, at a testing site, at home or anywhere else.

Do-it-yourself testing

  • Perform self-tests at home or anywhere.
  • Read and follow all instructions for performing the test.
  • Anyone who is symptomatic, regardless of their vaccination status, can use self-tests.
  • If you are unvaccinated, you can use self-tests, especially if you were exposed to someone with COVID-19.
  • If you test positive, you should isolate and inform any close contacts. If you develop symptoms or symptoms worsen, see a healthcare provider for a PCR test and treatment, if needed.

If you need a COVID-19 test and can’t get to your healthcare provider, you can use a self-test. Self-tests are available over the counter at pharmacies or retail stores. They are used to detect current infection. The FDA provides information on which self-tests are authorized for use.

Before using the test, carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions. If you have questions about the test or your results, talk to your healthcare provider.

Collecting a specimen

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to collect your own nasal or saliva specimen.
  • If you don’t collect the specimens as directed, your test results may be incorrect.
  • After you’ve collected the specimen, send it to a testing facility or use it to complete the self-test.

Performing the test

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions exactly and perform the steps in the order they are listed.

  • Store all test components according to the manufacturer’s instructions until ready for use.
  • Don’t use expired tests or test components that are damaged or appear discolored.
  • Disinfect the surface where you will do the test.
  • Don’t open test devices or test components until you are ready to begin.
  • Read and record test results within the amount of time specified in the manufacturer’s instructions. A result read before or after the specified timeframe may be incorrect.
  • Don’t reuse test devices or other components.
  • Once you have the results, discard the specimen collection swab and test kit, clean all surfaces and wash your hands.

Positive result

Tell your healthcare provider about your positive test result and discuss with them steps you should take to ensure the health and safety of you and your family. Stay home and isolate from others in your home for at least 5 days. Be sure to tell your close contacts and wear a well-fitted mask when around others. Watch for symptoms and be sure to tell your healthcare provider should they worsen. To avoid spreading the virus to others, follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines.

Negative result

A negative test result means the virus that causes COVID-19 was not found in your specimen, but that does not rule out an infection – especially if you have symptoms of COVID-19. Consider repeating the test 24 to 48 hours later.

Invalid or error result

Sometimes test results are inconclusive or not clear, so you won’t know if your results are positive or negative. If the display on the self-test shows an invalid result or a test error, the test did not work properly. When this happens, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions and contact the manufacturer for assistance.

Reporting results

If your test result is positive, give your results to your healthcare provider or to your local or state health department. Some self-tests have an app that will automatically report your results to the appropriate public health authorities.

Care after your COVID-19 test

Now is an important time to communicate with your healthcare team. If you have a primary care physician or a specialist managing your care, notify them of your COVID-19 test results to receive additional instructions. If you do not have a primary care provider, we can help. You are strongly encouraged to begin and maintain care with a primary care physician if you have any of the following conditions and are being tested for COVID-19:

COVID-19 testing to prepare for surgery

Your provider may require you to be tested for COVID-19 in advance of a scheduled surgery or procedure. Knowing your coronavirus or COVID-19 status is important to you and your care team. Although you may not have any symptoms, travel or exposure related to routine COVID-19 screening, your status affects how your healthcare team will plan for your procedure and hospital stay.

Should you begin to experience symptoms, travel or be exposed to a COVID-19-positive person, immediately contact your care team. Your screening guidance may change.

Patients should quarantine after testing and until their procedure.

Emergency COVID-19 care

COVID-19 symptoms should be monitored carefully. If you experience any of the following, you should call 911 or visit the nearest emergency department for immediate medical attention.

  • Blue lips or face
  • Confusion or inability to be roused
  • Coughing up blood
  • Extreme difficulty breathing, including the inability to speak a full sentence
  • Seizure
  • Severe or constant chest pain/pressure
  • Slurred speech
  • Temperature ≥ 103.0 F
  • Too weak to stand

If you require healthcare of any kind while awaiting your COVID-19 test results, wear a mask during all interactions and alert your providers to your status immediately.

When to go to the ER

Listen to Ryan Jacobsen, MD, EMS Medical Director at The University of Kansas Health System, describe when you should go to the ER during the COVID-19 surge.

Ryan Jacobsen, MD: [00:00:30] I think the workforce shortage is one of the biggest challenges that we have right now. And it's making it incredibly hard to staff ambulances, staff the emergency departments. It's a little scary at times. We have critical patients who need resuscitation in a hospital. They're very, very sick, and the hospital says, "We're full. We don't have any beds."

We've been actively discussing the option of a 911 response to a patient, and us telling them that we don't think they need to go to the hospital. Now that's a very provocative thing to institute. That is not the typical norm for EMS providers to provide a medical screening exam like an emergency department would. But because of staffing, because of the increased call volume, we're actually trying to keep ambulances available for the true emergencies.

[00:01:00] Chest pain, trouble breathing, any sort of hemorrhage or gastrointestinal bleeding, blood in your stools or vomiting blood, passing out.

If you can feel better with Tylenol or ibuprofen, over the counter cough and cold remedies, things of that nature. Just for an exposure, that is a very poor use of emergency department or 911. If you have no symptoms, and even if the symptoms are mild, there's no reason to immediately go to the emergency department.

If you think you have COVID-19, call your primary care provider or set up an urgent care video visit.

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