What kind of COVID-19 tests are available?
Testing for SARS-CoV-2 comes in two main forms, antibody and viral tests:
- Antibody Testing – An antibody test is a check to see if you have antibodies in your body from having been exposed to or contracted COVID-19. It does not necessarily mean you were symptomatic nor does it show whether you have a current infection. Few industries, organizations or countries use these tests for clearing individuals for work or entrance to a nation.
- Viral Testing – This type of testing identifies if you have a current infection. Individuals who have previously been infected but are not currently, but receive this test will show as negative. The viral test is often required for entry into other countries or to return to work.
Some regions, occupations or employers may require proof of either type of testing or one specifically. Please verify which test type is required before receiving your test.
Where can I get a COVID-19 test?
Various Passport Health locations across the United States offer antibody and/or viral COVID-19 testing. Be sure to check on your local provider’s web page to see if testing is available in your area.
Does Passport Health offer COVID-19 testing to companies who want to protect employees?
Yes. Passport Health’s large network of clinics allows for widespread onsite and offsite testing for employer workforces. Customized plans are available to meet company testing and, when available, vaccination needs. Please see our Corporate Wellness COVID-19 page.
How do COVID-19 tests work?
As there are two different forms of testing, each works differently.
- Antibody Testing – Typically, an antibody test involves taking an amount of blood from the body and testing that blood for the presence of the antibodies that can develop after an infection has been detected by the body’s immune system. Antibody tests are not used to diagnose COVID-19, but to help identify if someone may have come in contact with the virus and it may have infected them. A positive antibody test may require a viral test to check for active infection.
- Viral Testing – Testing is most often done through either a nasal swab or a saliva sample. These are then analyzed to determine if you have an active COVID-19 infection. Decisions on testing are made on a state or local level. While you may want testing, it is possible it has been restricted to individuals currently showing symptoms or those with other specified factors. See your local Passport Health’s webpage to know if viral COVID-19 testing is being provided by Passport Health in your area.
At this time, we do not know if individuals previously infected with COVID-19 can catch it again. You may be asked by an employer or when traveling to have tests on a regular basis such as before entering and leaving a country or on a monthly or other regular basis.
Do I need a COVID-19 test before my domestic trip?
Some states require proof of testing upon arrival if you are coming from a state with large amounts of recently reported COVID-19 cases. Be sure to check with your airline before travel to ensure you can enter/exit your destination easily.
Do I need a COVID-19 test before my international trip?
Many countries require a negative COVID-19 viral test before entry. Be sure to check with your airline before travel to see if proof is required. Often, these tests must have been completed within 24-72 hours before arrival.
Check with your local Passport Health location to see if testing can accommodate your specific travel requirements.
What should I do if my test comes back positive?
A positive antibody or viral test mean different things, depending on the test which you received:
- Antibody Testing – A positive antibody test means your body has made antibodies to help protect against COVID-19. It may not show if you have a current infection and does not mean you have long term immunity. A positive antibody test may require a viral COVID-19 test to ensure you are not currently sick without showing significant symptoms.
- Viral Testing – A positive viral test often means you have an active case of COVID-19. If you test positive, be sure to follow local quarantine procedures. Do note, many countries and states will deny entry with proof of a positive COVID-19 viral test in the previous 24-72 hours.
If you know or believe you have been exposed to an individual with COVID-19, follow CDC and local guidelines in regard to quarantine. If you have tested positive in a viral COVID-19 test, take protective steps including quarantine and seeking medical help.
What does a negative COVID-19 test mean?
A negative viral or antibody test can mean a few things:
- You were likely not infected at the time your sample was collected.
- It does not mean you cannot or will not get infected.
- Individuals at the very early stages of infection may not show positive on the test, this means it is possible to test negative but still show symptoms even days later.
If you have had a known exposure to COVID-19 and test negative, it is still prudent to follow CDC and local quarantine guidelines. Stay home for 14 days after your last contact with an infected individual and watch for a fever of 100.4 degrees or more.
How can I schedule my COVID-19 test?
Be sure to check if your local Passport Health is offering COVID-19 testing by checking their page on this site.
If your location is offering testing, appointments can be made by calling the clinic by phone. Many locations are seeing a large number of patients interested in testing, meaning appointment space may be limited.