Safe Pathways To Care
We care about the community and will provide you with verified information from trusted resources to keep you and your family safe. We've created this space to keep you armed with information you need to make decisions about your health. Most of all, we're here to help. Let us know your questions. Together, we shine.
Your Guide to COVID-19 Testing
Testing is important in helping reduce the spread of COVID-19. Talk with your primary care provider if you believe you should be tested. There are also options for self-testing if you have symptoms or might have been in contact with someone who has tested positive. Read frequently asked questions below.
Who should get tested?
The CDC recommends the following people be tested:
- Anyone showing symptoms
- Those who have been exposed to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19
- People not fully vaccinated who are asked or referred by their school, workplace, or healthcare providers
What are the types of tests?
There are two categories of COVID-19 tests: Testing for current infection and testing for an infection in the past.
Antibody tests are for those who may have been infected with COVID-19 in the past. Antibodies are detected in the blood of someone who has previously been infected with COVID-19 or someone who might have been vaccinated against the virus that causes the disease.
Viral tests are for those who might be currently infected with COVID-19. There are two types:
- Rapid tests (Antigen Symptomatic) return result in about 15-30 minutes. These are less sensitive than PCR tests and are generally used when a patient is symptomatic and within a certain number of days since symptom onset. These are best when there is a known exposure to a person with COVID-19.
- PCR tests (Nucleic Acid Amplification Test - NAAT) detect genetic material (nucleic acids) and sequences (RNA or ribonucleic acid) that makes up the material of the virus. Specimens are retrieved by swabbing the upper- or lower-respiratory tract. These tests can be used on patients who may be asymptomatic as they are more sensitive in detecting the virus.
I tested negative. Now what?
A negative result likely means you don't have COVID-19, or at least you didn't at the time your sample was collected. You should consult your school/workplace policies to find out whether you can return to your normal schedule.
I tested positive. Now what?
All those who test positive for COVID-19 -- whether fully vaccinated or not -- should isolate from others for at least 5 days from either their first day of symptoms or the day of their positive test, whichever was earlier. If after Day 5 you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and your other symptoms have improved, you can leave your home, but you should continue to wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask around others until after Day 10. If you have a fever, stay home until it's gone.
Once your isolation period has ended, if you are not vaccinated yet you may do so. The CDC says there is reason to believe being fully vaccinated offers better protection than natural immunity. One study showed unvaccinated people who already had COVID-19 are more than two times as likely as fully vaccinated people to get sick again.
It's important to stay informed to help you remain in good health and protect your family. View the information below to understand COVID-19, its symptoms, and to know where you can go to receive the latest updates.
- COVID-19 spreads when someone who is infected with the virus breathes droplets and small particles that contain the virus (source).
- It is transmitted in 3 main ways:
- Breathing in the small droplets exhaled by an infected person
- Sprays from coughs or sneezes
- Touching your face with the virus on your hands
Symptoms of COVID-19
This list is not all-inclusive. Older adults and people with underlying medical conditions might be more susceptible to serious complications (source).
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
It's important to seek emergency care immediately if you have:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in your chest
- New confusion
- An inability to wake or stay awake
- Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone
General COVID-19 questions
What can I do to protect myself and others?
- Get vaccinated and if you're eligible, get boosted.
- Stay home if you're sick.
- Wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask when in crowded indoor public places.
- Stay at least 6 feet away from others.
- Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated areas.
- Wash your hands often. Watch this video on proper handwashing.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with your unwashed hands.
- Cover your cough and sneezes.
- Clean and disinfect high-touch objects and surfaces regularly.
Why are there breakthrough cases in vaccinated people?
When someone who is fully vaccinated from COVID-19 becomes infected with the virus, this is called a "vaccine breakthrough infection." No vaccine can 100% eliminate a virus. After receiving a vaccine, fully vaccinated people can still get sick, be hospitalized, and even die from COVID-19.
Research has shown those who are vaccinated and still become ill with COVID-19 experience less severe symptoms and less risk of infection, hospitalization, and death. Data shows those who are vaccinated experience adverse effects from the virus at a much lower rate than those who are unvaccinated.
What is the risk of my child becoming sick with COVID-19?
COVID-19 can make children very sick and cause them to be hospitalized. In some situations, the complications from infection can lead to death.
Children who get infected with COVID-19 can also develop serious complications such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) -- a condition where different body parts become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. Children with underlying medical conditions are more at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared with children without underlying medical conditions.
Preventive measures such as vaccination and handwashing should be taken to help prevent the spread in schools and communities.
Do I need to get vaccinated if I've already had COVID-19?
According to the CDC, those who have recovered from COVID-19 should get vaccinated. The CDC cites evidence that suggests people get better protection from reinfection by being fully vaccinated, including one study that showed unvaccinated people who already had COVID-19 are more than 2x more likely than fully vaccinated people to become infected again.
Do the COVID-19 vaccines affect fertility? Are they safe for pregnant people?
There is no evidence the vaccines cause infertility issues, and the CDC says the vaccines are safe for those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or who hope to become pregnant in the future.
Pregnancy causes changes in the body that could make it easier to get very sick from respiratory viruses such as the one that causes COVID-19.
In addition to the same severe illness and death risks that all those with COVID-19 face, pregnant people who become infected have a higher likelihood for preterm birth, stillbirth, and the need for their baby to be admitted to an intensive care unit.
Meanwhile, studies have shown breastfeeding people have antibodies in their breastmilk, which could help protect their babies from infection.