What you need to know now about COVID-19 testing

Testing plays a major role in fighting COVID-19 — for your health, the health of our communities, and to help safely reopen businesses, schools, and more. While testing supplies across the nation have been limited, we are taking steps to continue to expand our testing capacity. Information about tests is changing often, so we’ll update the answers below frequently to help you understand what tests are available.

Who should be tested for COVID-19?

We recommend getting a diagnostic test if you currently have symptoms of COVID-19. If the test shows you’re infected, you can isolate to help prevent spread. Testing also helps public health agencies monitor the spread of the disease.

To receive a diagnostic test for COVID-19, call our 24/7 consulting nurse helpline at 1-800-297-6877. If you meet testing guidelines, we’ll give you instructions on what to do next.

It’s important to self-isolate as much as possible while you wait for your test results to avoid getting others sick. If you test positive, you should isolate for 10 days, or until your symptoms are improving and you haven’t had a fever for 72 hours — whichever is longer.

How much does COVID-19 testing cost?

Testing and diagnosis at Kaiser Permanente are available at no cost to members.

Can I get tested for COVID-19 outside of Kaiser Permanente?

Yes, you can get tested through an outside lab. Some cities and counties are testing their residents — even if they don’t have symptoms. Check your local public health department’s website to see what options are available in your area.

If you decide to get tested at an outside lab, you’ll need to pay for your test, but you can file a claim form for reimbursement. Please note that Kaiser Permanente will cover the cost of testing only if it was conducted by a licensed provider.

Remember that if you test positive outside of Kaiser Permanente, your results aren’t shared with your doctor’s office. Email a scanned copy of your test results to your Kaiser Permanente doctor’s office so we can update your medical record. The report should include your name and at least one other personal identifier, like your date of birth. Go to kp.org/wa and create a new message to your doctor’s office using the subject line, “COV19 outside lab report.” Click on the “Attach an image” link at the bottom of the message to add your scanned report.

How is COVID-19 diagnostic testing done?

A doctor or nurse inserts a 6-inch-long swab into one of your nostrils and rotates it for 15 seconds. Then they repeat with the other nostril.

Is Kaiser Permanente going to increase COVID-19 testing?

Though national testing supplies are limited, we expect our testing capacity to continue to expand in the coming weeks.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, we’ve increased our ability to test by:

  • Making investments to increase supplies
  • Working with suppliers to make test kits
  • Reducing turnaround time for most test results to 24 hours or less
  • Setting up drive-up testing sites in some areas
  • Using outside labs when needed to meet testing demand

Does Kaiser Permanente have drive-up or drive-through COVID-19 testing?

In some areas, Kaiser Permanente is providing drive-up COVID-19 testing outside of designated Kaiser Permanente facilities. This form of testing is available only for patients who meet testing criteria and have been directed to a drive-up testing site by their care team. Remember that you need to schedule an appointment to get tested. If drive-up testing is available near you, we’ll give you instructions on where to go.

How will I get my COVID-19 test results?

If you’ve been tested at Kaiser Permanente and your result is positive, you’ll get a phone call from us with your results and steps on how to get care. Your result will also be available in your medical record on kp.org/wa. If your test is negative, you’ll be notified through kp.org/wa.

When will I get my COVID-19 test results?

The turnaround time for diagnostic testing varies from 1 to 3 days. If you don’t receive your results within 3 days, please call our 24/7 consulting nurse helpline at 1-800-297-6877.

What should I do if I test negative for COVID-19 but continue to have symptoms?

Continue to treat any symptoms at home and self-isolate until you are fever-free for 24 hours. If your condition worsens, call our 24/7 consulting nurse helpline at 1-800-297-6877.

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