FAQ: COVID-19 Testing
1. Does PANW provide COVID-19 testing?
We can send orders to have your child tested at a community mobile testing site or collect and send a test specimen to a laboratory for processing, depending on your insurance carrier’s or family’s preference. We are not running the test specimens at PANW.
2. Can anyone be tested?
Due to the current national shortage of COVID-19 laboratory testing reagent, PANW is currently limited to testing only patients showing symptoms associated with the virus and/or who have a known laboratory-confirmed exposure to COVID-19, with underlying risk factors. We are not able to offer testing for travel or return to work/daycare purposes at this time. If you believe your child needs to be tested but he/she does not meet criteria, we strongly recommend following steps to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19 if they are sick. Children with symptoms should not return to work, school, or child care until they meet the criteria to stop self-quarantine (see #8 below) and have consulted with a healthcare provider and state or local health department. Current guidance from health officials is that employers and child care facilities do not need to require proof of a negative COVID-19 test result or a healthcare provider's note for individuals to return to work or school after illness.
The Oregon Health Authority has provided a Testing Locator should your family need testing for purposes extending beyond our current capacity. We hope this is a temporary situation.
3. Can my child be tested if he/she was exposed to someone with COVID-19?
Yes, though a number of other factors play into a provider’s decision-making for testing. Please discuss this with one of our triage nurses or your provider.
4. What is involved in COVID-19 testing? Is it painful? How can I prepare my child? Can it be done in the parking lot if I don’t want to come into the office?
The test to see if your child has the COVID-19 virus currently requires something called a nasopharyngeal specimen collection. This simply means that during the test, a swab is inserted into the back of one nostril. It is gently swirled around in that position for 10 seconds before removal. It may make your child’s eyes water and they will feel like they had a carbonated drink go into the back of their nose (mild stinging and burning – it is not as bad as having soda go into your nose). The test should ideally be done outside of the office because collecting the specimen is likely to cause coughing or sneezing, which makes it much easier to pass the virus to others. If you think your child will require testing, it is best to call to speak to a nurse or schedule a virtual visit prior to arrival.
To help prepare your child, you might find it helpful to show your child this step-by-step overview of what will happen during the test. Watching a video, listening to music, or reading books can help distract your child during the test.
5. How long does it take to get results back from a COVID-19 test?
The turnaround time for finding out your results is dependent on the test type and local resources. Currently, given the shortage of reagent, results have returned within 1-9 days.
6. How accurate is COVID-19 testing?
We are still learning about the accuracy of different kinds of tests and there are a number of factors that play into accuracy of a test. The nasopharyngeal test that checks to see if you have the virus in your body (as opposed to antibody tests, which test to see if you had the virus in the past) has the best accuracy. Each major lab in the metro area uses varying tests. All COVID-19 tests are similar in accuracy to influenza tests; 9 out of 10 people who have the virus will have a positive test result.
7. If my child has symptoms of COVID-19 but is diagnosed with something else (strep throat, mono, etc.), do they still need a COVID-19 test?
An individual can have COVID-19 simultaneously with other diagnoses. If you feel your child is still at risk for having COVID-19, please discuss this with your provider.
8. If my child tests negative for COVID-19 after exposure, does he/she still need to quarantine? For how long and with what precautions?
Even if your child tests negative for COVID-19 after exposure, they should be without fever or other symptoms for at least 24 hours without the use of acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) or ibuprofen (e.g., Advil) before returning to school/daycare and other normal activities. Physical distancing should be followed, regardless of symptoms. This applies to everyone, not just people who have been tested for COVID-19.
9. If my child tested positive for COVID-19 but doesn’t have symptoms, when can he/she return to normal activities?
Regardless of symptoms, individuals who test positive for COVID-19 should remain in isolation at home (only direct contact with household family members who need to be in contact) for at least 10 days after the positive test before returning to any normal activities. Have your child stay in a specific “sick room” or area and away from other people or animals, including pets. Use a separate bathroom, if available. If symptoms last longer than 10 days, your child should continue to isolate until they are symptom-free for at least 24 hours without the use of acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
During the minimum 10 days of isolation:
- Check your temperature twice a day and watch for symptoms of COVID-19.
- If possible, stay away from people who are at higher-risk for getting very sick from COVID-19.
10. If my child has symptoms of COVID-19 and we are waiting for the results of our COVID-19 testing, what precautions should we take in the meantime?
If your child or someone in your household is experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, it is important to act as though you have COVID-19, regardless of testing. While you wait to find out your child's test results, isolate yourselves and follow guidelines from #9 above. Call your provider if your child is sick enough to have trouble breathing, has high fevers, or several days of fevers. Test results do not change how the virus would be treated or what precautions you should take.
11. I think my child and I might have already had COVID-19 earlier in the season. Can you provide antibody testing?
Although some antibody tests look promising, few antibody tests have been found to meet FDA regulations for accuracy. The FDA has thus tightened regulations on them for the time being. We are not providing antibody testing at this time but this may change in the future.
12. Does PANW have rapid testing in the office?
Not at this time. Rapid testing machines and supplies are being prioritized in areas of high incidence and rural areas without a lot of resources.
13. I’ve been seeing news about Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (PMIS) and am worried. What do I need to know?
This is a rare syndrome found in children ages 2-15 years with both positive and negative COVID-19 tests. Your child should be seen immediately if you believe your child may have PMIS. For more information about PMIS, signs, and symptoms, see our blog.
If you have questions or concerns about COVID-19 testing, please contact your provider. Call our offices or email through our secure patient portal.
For information on how PANW is protecting patients during COVID-19, click here.