COVID-19 TESTING INFORMATION
last updated: may 29, 2020
Two kinds of tests are available for COVID-19: antibody tests and viral tests.
An antibody test tells you if you had a previous infection.
A viral test tells you if you have a current infection.
INFORMATION ON ANTIBODY TESTING
What does an antibody test detect?
An Antibody test (blood test) detects if you have had prior exposure to COVID-19 and have built an antibody for the virus. For most viral illnesses, a positive antibody means prior exposure to a virus and some degree of immunity to future infection. As COVID-19 is a novel (new) infection, it is unclear if a positive antibody definitively offers immunity. Therefore, you should practice universal precautions regardless of the results of the test.
What criteria do I need to meet to receive an antibody test?
- Antibody testing can be considered in any patient that may be interested in understanding their exposure status.
- Antibody testing is NOT recommended for:
- Patients with active symptoms, such as fevers, chills, cough, shortness of breath. They will be referred to the Urgent Care Center at SMG or CityMD for nasal swab viral testing.
- Patients who had symptom onset within past 14 days, even if they are now asymptomatic. They will be asked to schedule the test at least 14 days from onset and at least 3 days after resolution of symptoms to avoid false negatives.
Can kids get tested for COVID-19 antibodies?
SMG is offering antibody testing for children over the age of 2 years. Contact your child’s provider to discuss whether testing is needed.
How is the antibody test performed?
The antibody test is performed via a blood sample. Because the test looks for antibodies in the liquid portion of the blood or serum, this test is also knowns as serology test.
What platforms do you use for antibody testing?
We have the capability of both rapid fingerstick antibody testing, as well as blood draws, which are sent out to our national commercial lab partners (Quest, Sunrise, or Lab Corp).
For serology/antibody testing, our partners use platforms, which have FDA Emergency Use Authorization. At our SMG testing sites, we are using the rapid antibody test from Confirm Biosciences with approval from the New Jersey Department of Health and FDA guidance, which allows the use of the test based on internal validation, studies conducted by the manufacturer, and SMG’s certification as a complex lab.
Where can I get the COVID-19 antibody test?
Below are several convenient options for antibody testing:
- SMG Testing Centers – Established SMG patients can call 908-273-4300 to schedule an antibody test if you are feeling well and have no current symptoms.
- SMG Primary Care Provider Visit – Established SMG patients can call their PCP to schedule an in-office or virtual visit to discuss which test is best for them and how to get tested.
- CityMD – Our CityMD locations can evaluate patients who do not have an SMG provider. New or established patients, ages 8 years and older, can go to one of our CityMD sites for a walk-in visit; no appointment needed. Click here to find a CityMD near you.
How long will it take to receive my results and how do I view them?
SMG Testing Center: Antibody testing at our SMG testing centers is done via fingerstick. Since we use a rapid test, you will receive your results during your visit within 15 minutes. Results will also be posted to your SMG Patient Portal account for future reference.
Antibody test sent to partner labs: Blood tests for antibodies that are ordered by your provider or done at CityMD are drawn via phlebotomy. Generally, it will take 3-5 days to receive your antibody results. Your results can be viewed via your SMG Patient Portal account.
How much does the antibody test cost?
Per the CARES Act, SMG is not collecting copayments for COVID-19 related visits and testing when it is billed through your insurance plan. Most insurance plans have waived any out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 testing. If you have specific concerns, you may want to call your insurance provider ahead of your visit to confirm they will cover the cost of your SMG visit and test. The cost of the test is $50.
What does a positive antibody test result indicate and what actions do I need to take?
A positive antibody test indicates that you have been exposed to the virus. However, it is not known whether the presence of antibodies offers immunity against a second infection from the COVID-19 virus. Therefore, you should continue to exercise universal precautions such as social distancing, frequent hand washing, wearing of a mask or face cloth in public, avoiding contact with those who have active infection, and other CDC guideline recommendations. It is very important that you DO NOT assume you have immunity to the virus based on antibody test results.
What does a negative antibody test result indicate and what actions do I need to take?
A negative antibody test indicates that you have not been exposed to the virus. You should continue to exercise universal precautions such as social distancing, frequent hand washing, wearing of a mask or face cloth in public, avoiding contact with those who have active infection, and other CDC guideline recommendations.
What can I expect at the SMG test center?
- The SMG test centers only offer the fingerstick antibody test.
- You must be a current SMG patient (seen by an SMG provider within the past 3 years). If you are not a current SMG patient, you can go to any CityMD location to receive antibody testing.
- The test is only for persons without symptoms.
- Adult test centers can test patients 18 years of age and older. Pediatric centers can test patients 2-22 years of age.
- You must make an appointment, walk-ins cannot be accommodated.
- If you arrive earlier than your time slot, please wait in your car and only come into the center at the time of your appointment to maintain distancing.
- While we make every effort to be efficient, wait times in line may vary.
- You will be screened at the entrance for symptoms of active infection.
- You will be registered and answer a few questions.
- A small drop of blood will be obtained for testing via finger stick.
- The test takes 10 minutes to process.
- Results will be given to you during the visit and you will also be able to view the results in your portal within 3 business days.
- The visit will take approximately 15-20 minutes.
What is the accuracy of the antibody tests?
- The antibody tests used at SMG have been validated either through external trials, within SMG, or both.
- The ability of a test’s ability to detect antibody will depend on the timing of the test.
- If you are tested too soon after exposure, your body may not have had time to produce antibodies.
- When these tests are used at least 14 days after exposure, they detect antibody correctly in more than 95% of cases.
- Therefore, it is important that you only get tested if it has been more than 2 weeks since you had symptom onset or exposure to the virus. If you currently have symptoms you should wait to get the antibody test.
INFORMATION ON VIRAL TESTING
What does a viral test detect?
A Viral test (nasal swab) detects if you are actively infected with the COVID-19 virus.
What criteria do I need to meet to receive a viral test (nasal swab)?
If you are actively experiencing COVID-19 symptoms such as:
- Persistent cough
- Shortness of breath
- Body aches
How is the viral test performed?
The viral test is performed by swabbing the back of the nose (nasopharyngeal swab).
What platforms do you use for viral testing?
We are able to conduct in-house testing, as well as send out to our national commercial lab partners (Quest, Sunrise, or Lab Corp). All platforms used have FDA Emergency Use Authorization.
How long will it take to receive my results and how do I view them?
Generally, it will take 3-5 days to receive your results. Your results can be viewed via your SMG Patient Portal account. Please note, that in addition to posting the test results in your Patient Portal, all patients who receive a positive result will be contacted via phone.
Where can I get the COVID-19 viral test?
In order to keep our offices safe for patients who need care for all other medical conditions, we are evaluating patients with suspected COVID-19 symptoms in our Urgent Care Centers only. Viral tests can be performed at SMG’s Urgent Care Centers and CityMD locations.
How much does the viral test cost?
Per the CARES Act, SMG is not collecting copayments for COVID-19 related visits and testing when it is billed through your insurance plan. Most insurance plans have waived any out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 testing. If you have specific concerns, you may want to call your insurance provider ahead of your visit to confirm they will cover the cost of your SMG visit and test. The cost of the test is $100.
What does a positive viral test result indicate and what actions should I take?
A positive test means that you likely have an active infection and you are contagious. You should stay home, separate yourself from others in your home, continue to monitor your symptoms, call 911 if you have an emergency. You should take every precaution to avoid close contact with others, even in your household. Ensure that you and your provider discuss how long you need to self-isolate and what else needs to be done to get you well and keep others safe.
What does a negative viral test result indicate and what actions should I take?
A negative test means that no virus was detected and therefore you most likely do not have an active infection and are not contagious. Continue to exercise universal precautions such as social distancing, frequent hand washing, wearing of a mask or face cloth in public, and other CDC guideline recommendations.