There are two different types of tests that are currently being administered – the COVID-19 diagnostic test and the COVID-19 antibody test. The diagnostic test is used to determine if a person is actively infected with COVID-19. This generally involves a nasal swab (long swab inserted into the nose) used to collect specimen, that is then analyzed for the presence of COVID-19. The antibody test is used to determine if someone was previously infected with COVID-19. This test might determine whether someone is immune to further infection from COVID-19; however scientists are not certain how strong the immunity is or how long it lasts.
COVID-19 diagnostic tests are issued through your local department of health, in conjunction with your physician’s office. The qualifications for obtaining a test vary by county, but testing capacity has increased dramatically since the beginning of the COVID-19 emergency. If you have a primary care physician and want to get tested, you should contact your doctor first to arrange for testing. If you do not have a primary care provider, you should contact the Department of Health for the county that you live in. Contact information for each County Department of Health can be found here: https://health.ny.gov/contact/contact_information/. When you get tested, you may be given an isolation order. These orders are enforceable by law. Information regarding the isolation period, including when the isolation period will end, will be provided to you with the isolation order.
COVID-19 antibody tests are just starting to be released for use on the public. Right now, New York State and the county Departments of Health are issuing antibody tests – please contact your local Health Department for details about who is eligible. Additionally, primary care providers may, in certain circumstances, be able to provide antibody tests. Please contact your primary care provider to learn more about these tests.