COVID-19 Testing Information
We're experiencing extremely high patient volumes. For people who do not have symptoms (asymptomatic) or have mild symptoms, please consider community testing options identified below. Please note: Our emergency departments, walk-in clinics and urgent care locations DO NOT offer walk-in COVID-19 testing.
It's best to get tested at the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. Testing earlier means more treatment options may be available. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who received a positive COVID-19 test, please contact your primary care clinic, practice social distancing, follow the CDC's guidelines and see steps for testing below.
If You Have Moderate or Severe COVID-19 Illness
Moderate to severe COVID-19 illness may include high fever, severe chills, persistent cough or other symptoms. If this is you, please see the bullet list below. Anyone who is at increased risk for illness should also consider contacting their provider. If you have difficulty breathing, pain in your chest or other serious symptoms, please call 911 or visit the emergency department.
- Call your primary care clinic to schedule an appointment or drive-up testing.
- Please note: the emergency department does not offer walk-in COVID-19 testing.
If You Have Mild COVID-19 Illness or No Symptoms
Please see the bullet list below if you have mild COVID-19 illness, no symptoms (asymptomatic) following a COVID-19 exposure or need testing for other reasons. Mild COVID-19 illness may include headache, low grade fever, cough, sore throat, congestion, muscle aches or other symptoms.
Obtain a test through:
If you are testing following an exposure and you still have no symptoms, it's best to quarantine and wait until day five to seek a test, per CDC guidance. If you develop symptoms, proceed with testing. If you experience worsening symptoms after a negative result using a self-collect test kit, please find another testing option near you in the list above.
COVID-19 Testing FAQs
If you have questions about COVID-19 testing that aren't answered below, please contact your clinic or provider.
When should I get tested?
The CDC recommends anyone with signs or symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested, regardless of vaccination status or prior infection. Also, most people who have had close contact (within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) with someone with confirmed COVID-19 should get tested. If you have been exposed and are asymptomatic you should wait until at least day 5 to be tested. For more on testing, rely on additional guidelines from the CDC. If you have questions, please contact your primary care provider.
Can I get tested for COVID-19 outside of UnityPoint Health?
Yes, if you are not symptomatic (asymptomatic) and have not had a known exposure to COVID-19. While many insurance providers cover COVID-19 testing, it's important to check with the location you plan to get tested and your insurance provider for confirmation.
Do I need to tell my primary care provider if I test positive?
Yes. Log into your MyUnityPoint account to notify your primary care provider, continue to monitor symptoms and follow CDC guidance on isolation.
How should I get COVID-19 testing for travel?
It's important to know what testing requirements are in place before taking a trip. For more on safe travel, check out the CDC travel guide. Some important questions to ask yourself include:
- Is pre and/or post-travel COVID-19 testing required by my airline or destination?
- What type of COVID-19 test do I need?
- How far in advance do I need COVID-19 test results?
- Do I need proof of vaccination or test results?
Please note: UnityPoint is not currently offering asymptomatic (no symptoms) COVID-19 testing for travel, concerts or other reasons.
What different COVID-19 tests are available?
There are two diagnostic tests that identify active COVID-19 infection. A third type of test, an antibody test, works to find evidence you've previously had COVID-19. Generally, if you're asymptomatic an antigen/rapid test is an acceptable approach. If you've developed any COVID-19 symptoms, a Molecular/PCR test is the preferred approach.
Overall, your care provider will determine which test is best for you.
Antigen/Rapid COVID-19 Test
An antigen/rapid COVID-19 test detects proteins produced by the virus. These tests are less sensitive and often less accurate. Antigen tests are performed with nose or throat swabs to search for an active COVID-19 infection.
Molecular/PCR COVID-19 Test
A molecular test includes the rt-PCR test, commonly called PCR test. Molecular tests detect the genetic material that makes up the virus. These tests are very sensitive and often more accurate. Molecular tests look at samples from the nose, saliva, sputum (saliva and mucus) or nasopharyngeal (area right past your nostril) to search for an active COVID-19 infection.
Molecular tests pick up very small fragments of the virus, even beyond the point that someone is contagious or ill, but, perhaps, you are still sheading the virus. That's why you can get a positive test result from a molecular test, even though you might not have an active COVID-19 infection." Dr. Rosa says
Antibody COVID-19 Test
An antibody test does not test for active COVID-19 infection. Instead, an antibody (or serology) test, uses a blood sample to determine if you have developed antibodies against the COVID-19 virus. If antibodies are identified, it's a sign you might have previously contracted COVID-19.
Antibody testing is available via scheduled appointments at all seven primary care clinics in Dane County. Antibody testing, known as a serological test, is a blood test that can indicate if you were previously infected with a specific germ, in this case, COVID-19.
What if I can't find a COVID-19 at-home test anywhere?
We know tests can be hard to find when there's a COVID-19 surge. If you're able, check at your local retailer or pharmacy. If there are no test at the physical location, check online to see if they have tests available for shipping. Check back often for when they restock. Also, state and local health departments may have convenient testing options. (See information above.) Finally, the federal government has created a website where you can order at-home test kits for free.
Please note: UnityPoint Health is not currently offering asymptomatic (no symptoms) COVID-19 testing for exposure, travel, concerts or other reasons.
When and where can I see my test results?
Test results will be sent to your MyUnityPoint account and may take longer to appear during periods of high demand. Please refrain from calling for test status updates. If you're struggling to activate your MyUnityPoint account, it may be an issue with your Social Security number. To activate your MyUnityPoint account, the Social Security number provided must match what you enter during the activation process. If you didn’t provide a valid Social Security number during registration, try entering all 9s or all 0s. If you continue to experience access issues, please email MyUnityPointSupport@unitypoint.org or call (877) 224-4430.
What should I do while waiting for my test results?
Whether or not you have received your COVID-19 test results, it's important to care for yourself and to protect others in your home and community. If you were tested, it may take up to a few days to get results. Until you receive a negative COVID-19 test result, please stay home except to get emergency medical care. If you get a positive result, you'll likely be able to recover safely at home.
- Monitor your health. If you are getting worse, call ahead to your doctor's office. Emergency warning signs for COVID-19 include: difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or difficulty arousing, and bluish lips or face. If you have a medical emergency and call 911, advise them you may have COVID-19.
- Self-isolation is recommended for at least 10 days after illness onset and at least 1 day (24 hours) after recovery. Illness onset is the date your symptoms began. Recovery is when you have had no fever, without using fever-reducing medication and your other symptoms, such as cough or shortness of breath, have improved.
- Stay at home except to get medical care. Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Avoid public transportation, ridesharing, or taxis. If you need to leave the house to get medical care, notify your doctor ahead of time and wear a mask.
- Protect your family and close contacts. Separate yourself from other people in your home. Cover your coughs and sneezes. Avoid sharing household utensils and personal items and clean "high touch" surfaces every day.
- If you tested positive, but had no symptoms, isolation can be discontinued once 10 days after the positive test have passed.
- No repeat testing is needed to discontinue isolation and return to usual activities.
- In MyUnityPoint Mobile there is a COVID-19 activity that can be found under the My Record section inside the Menu tab. The COVID-19 activity allows you to see the status of your COVID-19 testing. After the specimen is obtained, your testing status will update. Once the COVID-19 test is resulted, the final status will appear. The COVID-19 activity shows your status for COVID-19 testing and includes a helpful resource section which provides links to the CDC website.
- Once your COVID-19 test results are available, you can access them immediately in your patient portal. Log into your MyUnityPoint account, the final COVID-19 result can be found under the Test Results section.
Do I need to be a UnityPoint Health - Meriter patient to be tested?
Yes, at this time we are currently only testing UnityPoint Health - Meriter patients. You can find more information on community testing sites or to obtain an at-home test through Department of Health Services or another retailer or local pharmacy.
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