When and where to get tested for COVID-19

As COVID-19 in San Antonio and South Texas have increased, many of us are watching the news and listening to the latest reports on the numbers of positive cases and hospitalizations – and in some cases losses of those within our close-knit city.

At the heart of it, we’re all trying to avoid infection and what we really want to know is – when should I consider getting tested and where do I go to get tested for COVID-19?

Get tested for the novel coronavirus if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Fever or chills
  • Mild or moderate difficulty breathing
  • New or worsening cough
  • Sustained loss of smell, taste or appetite
  • Sore throat
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Aching throughout your body

If you’re not sure what to do, both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District have helpful COVID-19 screening tools. They also help you understand if you fall within a high-risk category for this illness.

The CDC has also established a list of medical conditions that make people more vulnerable to the potential complications of COVID-19.

Most people experience mild to moderate symptoms

According to Dr. Jason Bowling, medical director of infectious control and prevention at University Health System, the majority of the population still experience mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19.

“Fortunately most people will not end up in the hospital and in general their symptoms will last a few days, less than a week, often the symptoms are the same duration as when you have the flu.”

Dr. Bowling said you should consider seeking healthcare if your symptoms worsen, such as worsening of fever or shortness of breath. He explained, “Some people get a super infection or another infection on top of getting COVID-19. Some patients get over having COVID-19 and then experience a bacterial infection.”

This can cause a serious problem. Dr. Bowling also urges patients who start to feel better but then experience more severe symptoms, to seek medical help as well.

One thing we’ve learned is that this SARS-CoV-2 virus is complex and each person reacts to it differently. When your symptoms don’t improve or become more serious, don’t hesitate to get immediate medical attention. Call your doctor or go to the ER if it becomes life threatening.

Call 911 or go to the ER if you’re experiencing:

  • Severe, constant chest pain or pressure
  • Extreme difficulty breathing
  • Severe, constant lightheadedness
  • New severe disorientation – feeling confused
  • Having difficulty to wake up – feeling you’re about to become unconscious
  • Slurred speech of difficulty speaking
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Seizures
  • Signs of low blood pressure – too weak to stand, feeling cold, pale or clammy skin

Where can you go for COVID-19 testing?

You should contact your primary care physician and they can either get you tested through their medical practice or if you don’t have insurance there are ways to access free testing through Metro Health.

You can only get tested if you have symptoms. Residents with health insurance are encouraged to make an appointment with their private provider so that more testing can be made available for those who don’t have insurance. The City of San Antonio provides access to several types of testing locations:

Walk-Up testing Event
Freeman Coliseum (you’re emailed a link for an appointment time – can also call 833-213-0643)
Bexar County Testing Sites

Self-quarantine while you wait for your results

It’s critical that you discipline yourself to self-quarantine while you wait for your test results. If you go out in the community or visit friends while you’re waiting to find out if you’re positive or not, it puts others in your neighborhood and workplace at considerable risk without their knowledge.

For the protection of others, follow these steps while waiting for your test results:

  • Stay home, remain separated from other members of your household – at least 6 feet apart.
  • Don’t go to work or interact with others in person – especially anyone outside your household.
  • Wear a new disposable mask every day or wash your fabric mask daily.
  • Continue to follow all safety protocols, frequently washing your hands and disinfecting surfaces.
  • Monitor for the onset of new or worsening symptoms.

What should you do if you test positive for COVID-19?

Notify those people you came into contact with up to two days before you started experiencing symptoms. Make them aware they were exposed to the virus and for the protection of others, they should quarantine for 14 days.

If you have mild symptoms, Dr. Bowling recommends to get supportive care – rest at home.

  • Get plenty of rest, remain well hydrated and eat healthy
  • Stay home, remain as distant from others in your home as possible
  • Use a dedicated bedroom and bathroom, if possible
  • Use medications to relieve your symptoms
  • Wear masks even while home if others live in the house with you
  • Frequently disinfect high-touch surfaces such as counters, door knobs and bathrooms

Check out the City of San Antonio mobile health app for helpful information as you navigate your various symptoms. If you receive a call from Metropolitan Health as a follow-up to a positive test – please answer you phone and provide important information that will benefit others.

Obviously, all medical situations are different, but in general, the following is recommended for those who test positive for the novel coronavirus.

The CDC indicates you can be with others after you’ve tested positive for COVID-19 when:

If you had symptoms:

  • After 3 days with no fever and
  • Your symptoms improved and
  • It’s been 10 days since your symptoms first appeared

Depending on your doctor’s advice, you may get tested again to see if you still have the virus. If it’s recommended in your circumstances to get re-tested, then you can be with others after receiving two negative test results at least 24-hours apart.

If you had no symptoms:

  • Once 10 days have passed since the test and
  • You continue to have no symptoms

Depending on your doctor’s advice, you may get tested again to see if you still have the virus. If it’s recommended in your circumstances to get re-tested, then you can be with others after receiving two negative test results at least 24-hours apart.

If you’ve been ill, stay in contact with your healthcare provider and follow their recommendations. You want the fastest recovery possible while minimizing the risk to others.

In this video below, University Health System’s Public Relations Manager Elizabeth Allen asks Dr. Bowling key questions about COVID-19 testing. Dr. Bowling shares detailed information about the different types of COVID-19 testing, whether the risk of aerosol particle transmission is greater than we thought, the difference between isolation and quarantine and much more.