A guide to help you make decisions and seek appropriate medical care
There are laboratory tests that can identify the virus that causes COVID-19
in respiratory specimens. State and local public health departments have
received tests from CDC while medical providers are getting tests developed
by commercial manufacturers.
Who should be tested
Not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19. Here is some information
that might help in making decisions about seeking care or testing.
Most people have
mild illness and are able to
recover at home.
- There is no treatment specifically approved for this virus.
- Testing results may be helpful to inform decision-making about who you
come in contact with.
guidance for who should be tested, but decisions about testing are at the discretion
of state and local health departments and/or individual clinicians.
- Clinicians should work with their state and local health departments to
coordinate testing through public health laboratories, or work with clinical
or commercial laboratories.
How to get tested
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and want to get tested, try calling your
state or local health department or a medical provider. While supplies
of these tests are increasing, it may still be difficult to find a place
to get tested.
What to do after you are tested
If you test positive for COVID-19, see
If You Are Sick or Caring for Someone.
- If you test negative for COVID-19, you probably were not infected at the
time your specimen was collected. However, that does not mean you will
not get sick. It is possible that you were very early in your infection
at the time of your specimen collection and that you could test positive
later, or you could be exposed later and then develop illness. In other
words, a negative test result does not rule out getting sick later.
CDC expects that widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States will occur. In the coming months, most of the U.S.
population will be exposed to this virus. You should continue to practice
all the protective measures recommended to keep yourself and others free
from illness. See
How to Protect Yourself.
Additional information: U.S. Food and Drug Adminstration
FAQs on Diagnostic Testing for SARS-CoV-2external icon.
If you are very sick get medical attention immediately
When to Seek Medical Attention
If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention
immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for
any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
For healthcare professionals
For information on testing for healthcare professionals, see recommendations
for reporting, testing, and specimen collection at
Interim Guidance for Healthcare Professionals.