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Covid-19 Updates

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COVID-19: What is a Coronavirus Test?

woman working in a laboratory

Information from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health (CCBOH) 

During the March 18 media briefing at the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, Dr. Heidi Gullett, MD, MPH, discussed what a COVID-19 test is and who needs to take one.  

Watch the full media briefing below the FAQ.  

What is a COVID-19 test?  

A healthcare provider will obtain a sample obtained by placing a swab into the nose. It is then placed in a vial and sent to a lab for testing. 

What does it feel like? 

Many patients experience some discomfort and may cough, as the swab must be placed deep in the nose to obtain a sample. Since COVID-19 is spread through droplets, healthcare providers wear personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect themselves while administering a test.   

Do they immediately test for COVID-19?  

No. The sample is first tested for influenza and other respiratory illnesses. If the samples come back positive for one of these illnesses, no COVID-19 test will be done. If the sample comes back negative, it will be sent on to be tested for COVID-19.  

Should I get a test?  

At this time, it is recommended that only those who are hospitalized be tested for COVID-19, or those community members who are at risk for serious complications. It is important to prioritize those patients.  

What should I do if I’m not sure?  

Cuyahoga County has partnered with United Way and 211 to launch a Coronavirus Hotline.  

  • You can call 855-711-3035.  

  • Callers who need general information will be directed to the CDC website and

  • Callers who need detailed information will be connected to detailed options, then an operator.