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How To Get COVID-19 Testing & Care
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Maine Urgent Care performs nasal swab testing for the presence of COVID-19 infection, as well as serological tests for antibodies and potential immunity.
COVID-19 Nasal Swab Test
If you are experiencing upper respiratory symptoms consistent with those of COVID-19 (cough, fever, body aches, fatigue, recent loss of taste) we can perform a molecular nasal swab test to determine if you currently have the virus. There are two major types: a PCR test and an antigen test. PCR tests checks for a virus’s genetic material, while antigen tests look for specific proteins on a virus’s surface. We currently offer the PCR test.
COVID-19 Antibody Test
If you believe you had the virus and are now symptom-free, we offer a serological test for antibodies and potential immunity. Antibody blood tests check for the presence of antibodies to coronavirus in the blood. It can be used to detect a past infection. IgM and IgG are immunoglobulins produced by the immune system to protect against COVID-19. The level of IgM antibody begins to rise 1 week after the initial infection, while the rise in IgG usually appears after 14 days. Elevated IgG levels can last for 6 months or even several years. By testing for the presence of these antibodies, we are able to determine if a patient was previously infected by the coronavirus. The test does not diagnose an active infection, nor does it necessarily guarantee protection from reinfection.
COVID-19 overview and symptoms
SARS-CoV-2 is a new strain of coronavirus that was first identified in December 2019. It has caused a worldwide pandemic of respiratory illness, called COVID-19.
COVID-19 spreads easily from person to person, through droplets released into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. COVID-19 symptoms can range from very mild to severe. It’s possible to have just a few symptoms, or no symptoms at all.
- 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
When to get a test
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, or have been in close contact with someone who tested positive, it’s important to get tested. You may also need a test after high-risk activities such as travel or attending a large gathering, or be referred to get testing by a healthcare provider, local, or state health department.
The incubation period (the time between exposure to the virus and symptom onset) is generally 5-6 days, but can take up to 14 days. For this reason, you should self-quarantine and wait at least five days before getting tested. The virus may not be detectable in your system in early stages. If you have COVID-19 but get tested too soon, your result could come back negative, even though you have been infected.
You should self-quarantine at home pending test results, and follow the advice of your healthcare provider. Minor cases of COVID-19 can be treated at home. Get rest, stay hydrated, and take over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, to help you feel better. Be sure to monitor your symptoms carefully. If your symptoms get worse, call your healthcare provider immediately. Patients with severe coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) require hospitalization and supportive care.
When to seek emergency care
Call 911 or go straight to your local ER for the following severe COVID-19 symptoms:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone
This is not a complete list. Call your medical provider for any symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.
Notify the 911 operator or call ahead to the ER to let them know that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.
Risks and complications
People of any age can get COVID-19. People who are older or who have an existing medical condition have a higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19. Serious complications such as pneumonia, severe lung conditions, heart problems, organ failure, blood clots, and additional infections can occur.
Medical conditions that may increase your risk for COVID-19 complications include:
- Serious heart and lung diseases
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Chronic kidney disease
- Sickle cell disease
- Weakened immune system
- Brain and nervous system conditions
Vaccines and prevention
The FDA has given emergency use authorization for three COVID-19 vaccines, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
A vaccine offers protection from the illness by creating an antibody response in your body. If you do still get COVID-19, vaccination will help reduce the severity of your illness and lower the risk of serious complications.
You can also reduce your risk of infection and slow the spread of COVID-19 by taking the following steps:
- Keep at least 6 feet distance between yourself and people outside your household.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid crowds and indoor spaces with poor ventilation.
- Wear a face mask in spaces where it’s difficult to avoid close contact with others.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Stay home if you’re sick, unless you’re going to get medical care.
What to do if you're sick with COVID-19
Sick with COVID-19, or think you might be? Here are some basic steps to care for yourself and protect others.
- Stay home, except to get medical care. Most people with COVID-19 experience mild illness and can recover at home without medical intervention. Stay home unless you are seeking testing and treatment, and do not visit public places.
- Call ahead before visiting your doctor. Protect medical staff and other patients by adhering to pandemic protocols at your doctor’s office. Learn how to get a test at our urgent care here.
- Rest, hydrate, and monitor your symptoms. Take care of yourself. Get lots of rest, drink fluids, and monitor changes in symptoms. Be sure to get care if you have trouble breathing, or have any other emergency warning signs.
- Separate yourself from other people. Use a separate room and bathroom for sick household members (if possible). If you need to be around other people or animals in or outside of the home, wear a mask.
- Tell your close contacts that they may have been exposed to COVID-19. An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting 48 hours (or 2 days) before the person has any symptoms or tests positive.
- Follow good hygiene practices. Wear a mask around others (even household members), and cover your coughs and sneezes. Wash your hands often with soap and water. Avoid sharing personal household items like dishes, eating utensils, towels, or bedding. Clean all “high-touch” surfaces everyday.
When you can end home isolation
- 10 days since symptoms first appeared
- 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications
- Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving*
If you had a positive COVID-19 test result, but no symptoms, you can end isolation 10 days after your positive viral test. If your healthcare provider recommends additional testing, they will let you know when you can resume being around others based on your test results.
Patients with severe COVID-19 and immunocompromised patients might need to stay home longer than 10 days and up to 20 days after symptoms first appeared. Talk to your healthcare provider for information.
If you had close contact with someone with COVID-19, you should stay home for 14 days after the last exposure to that person. This does not apply to vaccinated persons or those who have had and recovered from COVID-19 within the last 3 months.