COVID-19 screening and testing

Is there a difference between a screening and a test?

Yes. We screen individuals using a series of questions to determine exposure risk and if there are any signs and symptoms. Screening may also involve some type of physical examination, such as a temperature check. If it is determined that there is a significant risk from the screening, there are underlying conditions and/or there are symptoms being presented, then a laboratory test may be ordered. There could also be other factors taken into account if a COVID-19 test is ordered.

How do you test a person for COVID-19? 

COVID-19 testing can be done at most state public health laboratories. Hospitals also have increasing abilities to test for COVID-19 infection.  Healthcare professionals are working with state public health departments and the CDC to determine who should be tested for COVID-19.  

To test someone for COVID-19, a medical professional swabs inside the patient’s nostril and possibly their throat. If the patient has a wet cough, a sputum sample (the mixture of saliva and mucus that’s coughed up) will also be collected. 

What should I do if I had close contact with someone who has COVID-19? 

If you are not ill but had contact with a person confirmed to have COVID-19, notify your County Department of Public Health. 

  • Douglas: 402.444.3400
  • Sarpy/Cass: 402.537.6970
  • Pottawattamie: 712.242.1120

If it is determined that you should be quarantined at home, you will be monitored by staff from your local or state health department.

While being monitored:

  • Stay at home except to get medical care
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home
  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor
  • Wear a facemask
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Clean your hands often
  • Avoid sharing personal household items
  • Clean all “high-touch” surfaces everyday
  • Monitor your symptoms

What if I’ve been in contact with someone who was around another person with known COVID-19? 

If you are a secondary contact of someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 (for example, your co-worker may have been exposed to a patient with COVID-19) and are not experiencing any respiratory symptoms, you do not need to be screened for COVID-19.  You are encouraged to self-monitor by being aware of any new respiratory symptoms and checking your temperature for fever. Call your physician for directions should any symptoms develop. You should not go to the emergency department unless you have a life threatening condition.