COVID-19 Testing Tip Sheet

*This information was current on July 9, 2020. It is a rapidly moving pandemic thus this information could change.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), so the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. The CDC recommends that you:

  • Wash your hands often
    • Soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    • Use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not readily available.
  • Avoid close contact
    • Inside your home: if possible, maintain 6 feet between the person who is sick and other household members.
    • Outside your home: put 6 feet of distance between yourself and people who don’t live in your household.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
    • You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
    • The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
    • The cloth face cover is especially important when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, but it is not a substitute for social distancing when it is possible.
    • Surgical masks and N95 respirators are critical supplies that should be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders, but if you are wearing a disposable mask, please properly dispose of it in a trash can.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
    • Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and then throw the used tissue away in the trash.
    • Use the inside of your elbow and do not spit if you do not have a tissue.
    • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water or clean your hands with hand sanitizer.
  • Clean and disinfect
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks.
  • Monitor your health daily
    • Be alert for symptoms and take your temperature if symptoms develop.
    • Follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop.

 

  • Direct exposure to a positive case: the CDC recommendation would be self-isolation for 14 days and testing only if symptoms develop.
  • Indirect exposure to a positive case: in general, the recommendation would be self-monitoring. No need to isolate, but always wear a mask and social distance while being on the lookout for subtle symptoms.
  • No knowledge of exposure: testing is not needed if you don’t have symptoms and you have no knowledge of an exposure to a positive case.

Symptoms can range from mild to severe illness, and appear 2-14 days after you are exposed to the virus. Be on the lookout for cough, fever, chills, muscle pain, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell. Please do not go directly to the emergency room without contacting your healthcare provider first. Tampa General Hospital is NOT a COVID-19 testing site.

 

  • For early detection, the FDA approved test is a nasal swab analyzed by PCR. The CDC recommends testing only if symptoms develop.
  • There are a number of ways to receive a nasal swab test in your area:
    • Call USF Health at (813) 974-2201 to make an appointment. The volume of symptomatic patients is so high, we may not be able to test those without symptoms unless the patient’s doctor recommends the test because of significant risk factors.
    • Hillsborough County walk up or drive-thru testing sites, by appointment only. Insurance not required.
    • Pinellas County walk up testing sites, by appointment only. Insurance not required.
    • Pinellas County drive-thru testing sites, no appointment necessary. Insurance not required.
    • Sarasota County testing sites, by appointment only. Insurance not required.
      • Testing is prioritized for anyone currently experiencing symptoms and individuals who work in a health care setting.
      • CALL (941) 861-2883 to make an appointment. Visit SCGov.net for testing location information.
    • Sarasota and Manatee County walk up or drive-thru testing sites, no appointment necessary. Insurance not required.
      • Visit SCGov.net for testing location information and requirements.
  • An antibody blood test can tell you if you had a previous infection. It is not recommended for early detection because it can take 1-3 weeks after infection to make antibodies. It is unknown at this time if having antibodies to the virus can protect someone from getting infected with the virus again, or how long that protection might last.

 

  • Positive with no symptoms: you should stay home for 10 days according to CDC guidelines. The course is unpredictable and within 5 days, many will develop symptoms. As much as possible, separate yourself from other people in your household.
  • Positive with symptoms: you will need to isolate for a complete 10 days starting the first day of symptoms and 3 days of being fever-free without treating to suppress a fever. You need to meet both criteria to be able to stop quarantine. As much as possible, separate yourself from other people in your household.
  • Notify anyone who may have been exposed to you within the last two weeks to let them know about your positive test result so they can self-monitor.
  • Only go to the hospital or call 911 for help if your symptoms escalate into a medical emergency. Notify the operator that you have COVID-19. If possible, put on a cloth face covering before medical help arrives. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care. Do not leave your home, except to get medical care.

 

  • For information, visit USF Health’s COVID-19 patient resources page.
  • Learn more about our Telehealth virtual appointments.
  • This information was current on July 9, 2020. It is a rapidly moving pandemic thus this information could change.