Testing for COVID-19

DHS is receiving a number of questions from health care providers about testing for COVID-19. Following are responses to common questions.

I’m a primary care physician, should I be testing patients in the clinic setting?

Yes. We encourage all clinicians to test patients in the clinic/outpatient setting to reduce demand on hospitals and emergency departments. Please see the

Where should I send specimens?

Many commercial and clinical labs are now performing COVID-19 testing. If your health system is performing large numbers of tests (such as drive through testing sites, testing of ill health care workers, etc.) these specimens should be sent to commercial labs. Health plans have been asked to waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 laboratory and radiology testing.

How will we get patient results?

As with other testing, clinicians can expect results to be communicated directly from the lab. Please do not contact the Department of Health Services or your local health department for test results.

How will my patient get their results?

As with other testing, clinicians should share test results with patients directly. Please do NOT tell patients to contact their local health department or DHS for test results, or updates on the status of their testing.

Are there any recommendations from DHS about who should not be tested?

Clinicians should use their judgment to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and whether the patient should be tested. Asymptomatic individuals should NOT be tested. Priority should be given for patients with known exposure to a person with COVID-19, severely ill patients requiring hospitalization, and patients with significant comorbidities.

Patients with mild upper respiratory symptoms not requiring medical care generally do not need testing, but they should be advised to remain out of contact with others until their symptoms fully resolve.  Please see the Updates to COVID-19 Testing Procedures memo from March 9.