COVID-19 TESTING INFORMATION
last updated: September 3, 2020
Two kinds of tests are available for COVID-19: antibody tests and viral tests.
An antibody test tells you if you had a previous infection.
A viral test tells you if you have a current infection.
INFORMATION ON VIRAL TESTING
What are the different types of viral testing?
Viral tests look for various portions of the SARS-CoV2 virus which causes COVID-19. Most tests are either Antigen or PCR tests.
What is the difference between a COVID-19 Antigen and PCR test?
A COVID-19 viral test is used to detect the presence of virus in a patient’s nose, mouth, or throat. There are two types of viral tests:
- Antigen test - detects specific proteins on the surface of the virus
- PCR test - a molecular test that detects the virus’s genetic material
Who should get a viral test?
- Patients who have symptoms of possible COVID-19 such as fevers, chills, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, fatigue, loss of taste and loss of smell
- People who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19
- People who need a documented negative test:
- Return to school
- Return to work
- Want to know their status so they can visit loved ones
- Recently traveled
- Required for travel
Where can I get a viral test?
If you are experiencing symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you should be evaluated for active infection. Please visit a Summit Medical Group Urgent Care or CityMD location for evaluation and possible testing.
If you are NOT experiencing symptoms and have not had recent exposure, but need a documented negative test, you may visit the SMG COVID-19 Viral Antigen Testing Center for a rapid antigen test.
Who is eligible to get a rapid viral antigen test at the COVID-19 Viral Antigen Testing Center?
To be scheduled for an appointment, you must:
- Be an active SMG patient who has been seen within the last 3 years (excluding urgent care visits)
- Be over 2 years of age
- Be asymptomatic
- NOT have had close contact (been within six feet for more than 15 minutes without wearing a mask) with an individual with known COVID-19 infection
- NOT have tested positive for COVID-19 infection in the past 14 days
Where is the COVID-19 Viral Antigen Testing Center?
From September 8 through October 2, Summit Medical Group’s COVID-19 Viral Antigen Testing Center at 1 Diamond Hill Road in Berkeley Heights will offer a rapid viral antigen test for asymptomatic patients; Mon-Fri 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. by appointment only.
How do I schedule a test at the COVID-19 Viral Antigen Testing Center?
Walk-ins are NOT accepted due to social distancing guidelines. To schedule an appointment for rapid viral antigen testing, please call your physician’s office and select prompt 2. Be sure to notify the scheduler if you will be scheduling for other family members so our team can coordinate testing when possible.
How is the viral test conducted?
After a brief evaluation by a provider, a sample is collected from the nose using a swab and then tested for presence of virus particles.
The SMG COVID-19 Viral Antigen Testing Center can run the test on-site while you wait. Results are provided in approximately 15 minutes.
At the SMG Urgent Care Centers and CityMD locations, the sample is sent to a lab for processing. Results are usually available within 1-5 days.
Where should I go if I need a viral PCR test (not the rapid viral antigen test)?
For patients with NO symptoms, the COVID-19 Viral Antigen Testing Center will be offering rapid viral antigen tests only. If you are in need of a viral PCR (molecular) test and are asymptomatic, please visit your nearest CityMD location.
Symptomatic patients can visit an SMG Urgent Care Center or CityMD location for evaluation.
What if I want a COVID-19 test related to travel plans?
A rapid viral antigen test can be scheduled at the COVID-19 Viral Antigen Testing Center for an asymptomatic person who requires testing prior to travel (i.e. out of the country or air travel).
If you’re returning from a state listed on the NJ Travel Advisory List; you must quarantine for 14 days. The test should be scheduled after the quarantine period has passed and you do not have symptoms.
What does it mean if I receive a positive test result?
If you receive a positive test result, it means that COVID-19 virus particles were detected in your sample. It is likely that you have COVID-19 and you should self-isolate to avoid spreading the virus to others.
There is a very small chance that this test can give a positive result that is incorrect (a false positive result) for several reasons:
- You may have recovered from the illness but are still shedding particles from dead virus
- You may have an infection with a different coronavirus, such as the ones that cause common colds
Interpretation of test results and how to best care for yourself should be based on your test results along with your medical history and symptoms in partnership with your health care provider.
What does it mean if I receive a negative test result?
A negative test result means that the COVID-19 virus was not found in your sample and you most likely do not have an active infection.
There is a small chance this test can give a negative result that is incorrect (a false negative result) for several reasons:
- You may be carrying the virus, but it was not detected in your secretions yet. This is called being in the incubation period.
- The sample did not collect enough secretions to detect the virus.
Your test result, together with all other aspects of your medical history and symptoms, should be used in deciding how to care for yourself in partnership with your health care provider.
What platform do you use for the antigen test and how accurate is it?
The COVID-19 Viral Antigen Testing Center uses the Quidel Sofia COVID-19 viral antigen test. According to the manufacturer’s data submitted to the FDA, the Quidel Sofia test has a negative predictive value (chances that a negative test truly means virus is not present in the sample) of 99.4% and positive predictive value (chances that a positive test truly means virus is present in the sample) of 100%.
CityMD and SMG Urgent Care Center samples are tested on a variety of platforms at both our in-house labs as well as at our national partner labs. The sensitivity and specificity of these tests vary but are all above 90%.
Have the tests been evaluated by the FDA?
INFORMATION ON ANTIBODY TESTING
What does an antibody test detect?
An antibody test (blood test) detects if you have had prior exposure to COVID-19 and have built an antibody for the virus. For most viral illnesses, a positive antibody means prior exposure to a virus and some degree of immunity to future infection. As COVID-19 is a novel (new) infection, it is unclear if a positive antibody definitively offers immunity. Therefore, you should practice universal precautions regardless of the results of the test.
What criteria do I need to meet to receive an antibody test?
- Antibody testing can be considered in any patient that may be interested in understanding their exposure status.
- Antibody testing is NOT recommended for:
- Patients with active symptoms, such as fevers, chills, cough, shortness of breath. If you have symptoms, you should be evaluated at a CityMD or SMG Urgent Care Center.
- Patients who had symptom onset within the past 14 days, even if they are now asymptomatic may not have developed antibodies. It is best to wait at least 14 days from onset of symptoms prior to testing for antibodies.
How is the antibody test performed?
The antibody test is performed via a blood sample. Because the test looks for antibodies in the liquid portion of the blood or serum, this test is also knowns as serology test.
What platforms do you use for antibody testing?
SMG and CityMD use several platforms for antibody testing, all of which have been validated for accuracy and have FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).
Where can I get the COVID-19 antibody test?
Below are several convenient options for antibody testing:
- SMG Primary Care Provider Visit – Established SMG patients can call their PCP to request an order for antibody testing. Your PCP office will determine if an order can be sent directly to the lab or whether you need to schedule an in-office or virtual visit to discuss further. If you do not have a PCP and would like to establish care with one of our excellent internal medicine, family medicine, or pediatric medicine providers, please call 908-273-4300.
- CityMD – Our CityMD locations can evaluate patients who do not have an SMG provider. New or established patients, ages 8 years and older, can go to one of our CityMD sites for a walk-in visit; no appointment needed. Click here to find a CityMD near you.
Can kids get tested for COVID-19 antibodies?
- Yes, it is possible to test children for antibodies. Contact your child’s provider to discuss whether testing is needed.
How long will it take to receive my results and how do I view them?
Generally, it will take 1-5 days to receive your antibody results. Your results can be viewed via your SMG Patient Portal or CityMD Portal account.
How much does the antibody test cost?
Per the CARES Act, SMG is not collecting copayments for COVID-19 related visits and testing when it is billed through your insurance plan. Most insurance plans have waived any out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 testing. If you have specific concerns, you may want to call your insurance provider ahead of your visit to confirm they will cover the cost of your SMG visit and test. The cost of the test is $100.
What does a positive antibody test result indicate and what actions do I need to take?
A positive antibody test indicates that you have been exposed to the virus. However, it is not known whether the presence of antibodies offers immunity against a second infection from the COVID-19 virus. Therefore, you should continue to exercise universal precautions such as social distancing, frequent hand washing, wearing of a mask or face cloth in public, avoiding contact with those who have active infection, and other CDC guidelines and recommendations. It is very important that you DO NOT assume you have immunity to the virus based on antibody test results.
What does a negative antibody test result indicate and what actions do I need to take?
A negative antibody test indicates that you have not been exposed to the virus. You should continue to exercise universal precautions such as social distancing, frequent hand washing, wearing of a mask or face cloth in public, avoiding contact with those who have active infection, and other CDC guidelines and recommendations.
What is the accuracy of the antibody tests?
- The antibody tests used at SMG and CityMD have emergency use authorization from the FDA.
- The ability of a test’s ability to detect antibodies will depend on the timing of the test.
- If you are tested too soon after exposure, your body may not have had time to produce antibodies.
- When these tests are used at least 14 days after exposure, they detect antibodies correctly in more than 95% of cases.
- Therefore, it is important that you only get tested if it has been more than 2 weeks since you had symptom onset or exposure to the virus. If you currently have symptoms you should wait to get the antibody test.