Seven Things to Know About Getting Tested for COVID-19

As the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to spike in the United States, many people across the country are seeking out ways to be tested for the virus. Experiencing a fever or cough can cause one to go into a tailspin, wondering if they have COVID-19. With so much information deluging us daily, it’s difficult to know where to start when you need to be tested. 

Medical Teams is currently deploying Mobile Testing Clinics to administer COVID-19 tests in Washington state. When the pandemic began, we quickly mobilized a team of volunteers to meet the urgent need for testing. Since March 19, we’ve tested over 7,000 people!  

We’re here to help encourage you that testing is quick, easy and will provide you with peace of mind. Read on for seven things to know about getting tested for COVID-19. 

Cindy Breilh, Medical Teams’ Executive Director, US Programs,  is helping coordinate our COVID-19 clinic response and contributed to this article. 

1. If one of your household members is being tested for COVID-19, you should be tested, too. 

When people visit Medical Teams’ COVID-19 testing clinics, we recommend everyone in the household is tested for the virus. You’re at a higher risk for spreading the virus to your housemates as you share indoor spaces with them. Even if you don’t have symptoms, you could still have the virus, so take the time to be tested if someone in your home is exhibiting symptoms. The definition of exposure to COVID-19 is 15 minutes or more within six feet of someone who is positive, inside and unmasked.  

2. For most people, COVID-19 testing is covered by insurance – or free of cost. 

At Medical Teams’ clinics, we provide COVID-19 testing at no cost to the patient. If patients have medical insurance, volunteers will collect insurance information and insurance is billed to cover the cost of lab fees. The testing should be at no cost to any person. If a patient’s insurance doesn’t cover the cost, or they do not have insurance, the labwork is covered with funds received from grants. Medical Teams personnel and equipment is covered by the State of Washington Department of Health and private donors.  

Nayibe Tamboer, a Medical Teams’ mobile clinic manager, encouraging people to get tested in Yakima, Washington. 

3. Medical professionals performing COVID-19 tests wear thorough personal protective gear. 

Volunteers and staff at COVID-19 testing sites take safety seriously. Medical Teams ensures that COVID-19 testing personnel and patients are kept safe with the donning of a medical-grade gown, two pairs of gloves, two masks and a face shield. Gloves and any items that come in contact with a patient are changed or disinfected between patients and then properly discarded. Gallons of hand and surface sanitizer are used daily. Through skyrocketing temperatures and difficult conditions, we follow state safety guidelines, and are grateful to our staff and volunteers for their willingness to wear full PPE. 

4. The COVID-19 test is quick and easy to administer. 

There’s a lot of fear around what the COVID-19 test experience is like, but we can assure you it’s not as bad as it seems! When you arrive at a Medical Teams’ testing clinic, you’ll be asked for your consent as this is a reportable disease.  We report results to local and state health departments. We will ask for some contact information and about symptoms and exposure to people testing positive. A simple nasal swab in the front of your nose, both sides, 10 seconds a side, will be administered. This test will then be sent to the University of Washington lab for testing. 

“This is a much easier and more comfortable swab as compared to what we all saw early in the pandemic. And the good news is that it is just as accurate,”

 shares Cindy Breilh, Executive Director, Medical Teams US Programs. 
Julian getting COVID-19 tested by Medical Teams volunteers in Yakima, Washington. His father Joseph shared, “We don’t have COVID-19 symptoms, but we went to a small family gathering recently and found out someone there tested positive. We just want to make sure we’re okay.” 

5. The amount of time it takes to receive your test results varies.  

Depending on where you are tested, it could take several days to receive your test results. Lab processing time is improving, but make sure to confirm the timeline with your health care provider. Your results will usually be called in to you, or accessible via an online portal. When you’re tested through a Medical Teams’ clinic, test results are typically returned to patients within 2 days. 

6. Keep track of your symptoms and temperature, because you may be asked specifics about your health.  

If you’re symptomatic (such as having a cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches*), keep note of the day symptoms began and continue to monitor your health, including any spikes in body temperature. Any information you can provide about your flu-like symptoms are helpful to your health care provider as they care for you. If you’re asymptomatic (exhibiting no symptoms) but know you were exposed to someone confirmed with or suspected of COVID-19, keep track of your previous interactions with them. 

 7. You’ll feel reassured that you’re protecting your friends and family. 

While getting tested for COVID-19 may be nerve-wracking, it’s essential to help stop the spread of the disease. Once you receive your results, you’ll be able to take the next steps to move forward, including letting friends and family know your results if necessary. You’ll protect the health of people you interact with by knowing if you have COVID-19 and distancing from them as you recover. 

Peace of Mind 

Having moments of fear and hoping for some reassurance during the pandemic is a common experience among Americans. While the clinics operated by Medical Teams can’t offer any form of treatment for COVID-19, we can offer some peace of mind.  

Our team offers counselling to each person who comes to the clinic on how to stay healthy and safe for both possible outcomes, offering advice to both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals.

Take the time to be tested if you have any concerns at all, or any symptoms. You won’t regret it!


*To see a full list of COVID-19 symptoms, visit the CDC. A COVID-19 hotline specific to Washington state can be reached at 1-800-525-0127

Read more about Medical Team’s Response and FAQ here


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