Testing for COVID-19
who should get tested?
Certain people are being prioritized for testing to ensure optimal care for hospitalized patients and those at highest risk and to lessen the risk of health-care associated infections. See current priorities for testing patients with suspected COVID-19 infection from the U.S. Public Health Service. Call your healthcare provider if you think you should be tested. Testing criteria in Michigan now includes individuals with mild symptoms and essential workers still reporting to work in person, with or without symptoms - but only if supplies and capacity allow.
When should I get tested?
If you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you may be asked to self-quarantine, but testing is not recommended until you start experiencing symptoms or its been minimally 4 days after your last known exposure to a known positive COVID-19 person. It can take several days for the virus to "incubate" in your body so that your COVID-19 test result would show as positive; testing too early can lead to a false negative result.
where can I get tested?
If you think you should be tested for COVID-19 based on your symptoms or exposure to a known positive person, you should call your health care provider about testing. If you do not have a primary care provider, you can call a virtual screening line for a tele-health visit with a doctor to determine if testing is necessary.
In Berrien County, there are several testing sites available. InterCare Community Health Network is performing testing with drive-thru specimen collection available at their location in Benton Harbor. Spectrum Health Lakeland is offering testing by appointment only (and with a doctor’s order) at their Center for Outpatient Services in St. Joseph and at the hospitals in Watervliet and Niles.
To start the process of getting tested, call one of the virtual screening lines for assessment:
- InterCare COVID-19 screening phone line: 1.855.869.6900
- Spectrum Health Lakeland COVID-19 screening phone line: 616.391.2380
- Note: Effective, July 15, 2020, the drive-up specimen collection site at the Center for Outpatient Services in St. Joseph will be closing. Going forward, patients who are in need of a COVID-19 test should call their doctor or the screening line to get a doctor’s order for a test. Then, they should schedule a specimen collection appointment at the Center for Outpatient Services (inside the building), Lakeland Hospital Niles, or Lakeland Hospital Watervliet. No walk-in specimen collections are accepted at this time.
- Rite-Aid in Bridgman and Rite-Aid in Niles is offering no-cost daily testing at their pharmacy, without a doctor’s order. You must be 18+ years and complete an online screening before scheduling an appointment.
- Note: Walmart Pharmacy in Benton Township had previously been conducting COVID-19 testing, but are not offering testing anymore as of 6/29/20.
How will I get my test results?
You will be contacted when your results are available. Note that results sometimes take a bit longer than expected. Contact your primary care provider for results, or the health care facility where you got tested.
If you do not live in Berrien County, we will not have your information - even if you had your test collected here. Contact the local health department in the county where you live for help.
HOW CAN I GET A LETTER SAYING I TOOK A TEST, OR THAT I TESTED POSITIVE/NEGATIVE?
Contact your primary care provider for this information, or the health care facility where you got tested.
What happens if I test positive for covid-19?
First, someone from the Berrien County Health Department will contact you by telephone to speak with you about your test results and get a history of who you have been around even during the few days before you got sick. Its important that you are able to give the Health Department a list of the people you have had close personal contact with (including friends, family members, or co-workers) so we can instruct your contacts to self-quarantine and get them tested if they are feeling symptoms of COVID-19. This process is called "contact tracing" and its important to cut off the chain of transmission of the virus.
Isolate Sick Person to Protect Other Household Members:
- If possible, stay in a separate room from the rest of your household members and use a separate bathroom.
- Family members and roommates should avoid contact with sick person and practice self-quarantine.
- Wear a mask if you go into shared spaces.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects. Learn about disinfecting your home if someone is sick from CDC.
- Temporary housing assistance may be available if you:
- Have COVID-19 and, if you returned home, you would put a family member at risk for COVID-19.
- You are homeless and have COVID-19 or are at-risk for COVID-19.-
- To see if you qualify, speak wit-h the person coordinating your hospital discharge or call the Health Department at1-800-815-5485.
Managing Symptoms at Home:
- Stay home to manage mild symptoms of COVID-19 including cough, fever, fatigue, abdominal cramps, mild nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
- Take acetaminophen (Tylenol) up to every 4 hours or ibuprofen (Motrin/Advil) up to every 6 hours for fever. You can alternate these if you need relief prior to when the next dose is due. Do not exceed the maximum dose per day for any medication. Neither FDA or WHO currently recommend avoiding ibuprofen. Contact your healthcare provider if you have questions about your personal health.
- Stay hydrated by drinking water or sports drinks. Eat when possible.
- Avoid other family members and friends by following isolation instructions.
- Review 10 ways to manage respiratory symptoms at home from CDC.
- Review instructions for Social Distancing, Self-Monitoring, Quarantine, Isolation.
When to Seek Medical Care:
Call your doctor if you have:
- Fever that does not come down with medication.
- Shortness of breath.
- Symptoms that keep getting worse and feel unmanageable.
Call ahead to the Emergency Department or call 9-1-1 if you have:
- Difficulty breathing/inability to catch your breath.
- Chest pain.
- Feel faint, light-headed or unstable in any other way.
- If you are unable to drive yourself and do not have a ride, call 9-1-1 for transport by ambulance. Inform them of your symptoms ahead of time.
- If a family member or friend is giving you a ride, wear a mask or fabric that covers your mouth and nose while you are in the vehicle with them.
- If you are driving yourself, apply a mask or fabric that covers your mouth and nose before exiting your vehicle.