COVID-19 has affected nearly every aspect of our lives, and many questions about it remain.
One question that the CDC has made clear, though, is when the test for COVID-19 is helpful—and when it is not.
Paul R. Skolnik, M.D., chair of Carilion Clinic’s Department of Medicine, explains in the video above that testing is based on a particular pair of symptoms: cough and fever.
"If you have a cough and fever, contact your provider to arrange possible testing, both for COVID-19 and for other respiratory pathogens," said Dr. Skolnik.
"It’s much more likely that you have the flu than COVID-19. We’ll make sure you get the right test."
Dr. Skolnik points out that it is still flu season, and that some symptoms of influenza mirror those of COVID-19.
“It’s much more likely that you have the flu than COVID-19," he said. "We’ll make sure you get the right test so that you get the right diagnosis.”
The CDC also notes that there is no treatment specifically for COVID-19, so people who are mildly ill may be able to isolate and care for themselves at home.
If You Are Exposed to COVID-19
It is important that your provider knows your circumstances in addition to symptoms. If you have symptoms and call to request testing, tell your provider:
- If you are in close contact with someone who has COVID-19
- If you reside in a "hotspot," or a community where COVID-19 is prevalent
If You Are at High Risk
If you are at higher risk for serious illness, call your provider early, even if your symptoms are mild. This includes:
- Older adults
- People living with chronic conditions
- Cancer patients
If You Have Severe Symptoms
Seek medical attention immediately if you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, as well as any other severe or concerning symptoms. These include:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
And Dr. Skolnik offers one more bit of guidance: call ahead before seeking care at Carilion Clinic facilities. This allows us to streamline your care and keep everyone—you, other patients and your care team—as safe as possible.
Visit CarilionClinic.org/coronavirus for up-to-date information about our response to COVID-19. Call our Community Hotline for general questions about symptoms, resources, guidelines and more,
COVID-19 Community Hotline
Monday - Friday, 8 a.m - 5 p.m.
Do not call the Community Hotline to make appointments, or to request testing or test results. For information about COVID-19 and your personal health, talk with your primary care provider.