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.
Any person in New York State can now get tested for COVID-19, regardless of their age, occupation, symptomatic status or membership in a high-risk population. Certain counties are restricting county-run testing sites to those referred by a contact tracer or symptomatic individuals, but tests are still available without excuse from New York State testing sites, urgent care facilities, and private physicians. COVID-19 diagnostic tests are issued through your local department of health, in conjunction with your physician’s office. 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 tests that are conducted at sites sponsored by the County Department of Health or NYS Department of Health are free of charge without any copay or deductible. Tests performed at private sites, such as doctor’s offices, hospitals, or immediate care clinics, may not be covered by insurance after September 1 if they are not ordered by a physician in response to COVID symptoms. Thus, if you are being tested because you need a test to return to work or school, or if you are being tested because a contact tracer informed you that you might have been exposed, you may be subject to copay, deductible, or full price for testing if you go to a private physician or medical facility. Individuals who are concerned about this should contact their insurance companies for further information on whether their COVID test would be covered, or visit a Department of Health testing site.
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.