BUFFALO, N.Y. — Let’s say you have flu-like symptoms and are wondering whether you need a COVID-19 test. Here’s the guidance given by the Erie County Health Department.
STEP ONE: Stay where you are
Where do you go if you think you need a test? Nowhere. Stay where you are. Remaining at home reduces the possibility of spreading the virus, if you have it.
STEP TWO: Call your doctor
Next, get on the phone and call your doctor or health care provider.
If you do not have a primary care physician, call an urgent care center and ask to speak with a doctor there. This conversation will be most effective if the doctor you are talking to is familiar with your medical history (like whether you have conditions such as an immune disorders or respiratory disease). Be prepared to discuss in detail your symptoms and any recent travel.
STEP THREE: Doctor talks with epidemiologist
If the doctor thinks a COVID-19 test may be warranted, the doctor calls the Erie County Health Department to consult with an epidemiologist. A test will be ordered if there’s agreement you fulfill one of the following three risk groups:
- a person who’s been in contact with someone who’s tested positive for COVID-19.
- a person who’s recently traveled to China, South Korea, Iran, Italy or Japan.
- a person with COVID-19 symptoms: a fever plus either a cough or shortness of breath.
STEP FOUR: Instructions on where to go for test
If a COVID-19 test has been ordered for you, you will be told where to go. The nasal swab sample could be administered by a visiting nurse at your home, or possibly a lab or hospital.
STEP FIVE: Await results at home
While waiting for test results, please stay at home. You will be contacted with test results.
STEP SIX: Recovery instructions
If the COVID-19 test comes back positive, you may be asked to stay put. Over 80% of people infected with the virus are able to fully recover at home. And if that's where you recuperate, expect a representative of the health department to be in regular contact with you.
Severely infected COVID-19 patients will be hospitalized.
Please remember, over 98% of people infected with the virus completely recover.
This six step protocol has already changed one, based on updated guidance from state and federal health agencies. Should this change again, 2 On-Your-Side will update this story.