COVID-19: How to Get Tested

Adult wearing a home-made hygenic mask to protect against diseaseExpanded testing for COVID-19 is needed to turn the dial and re-open Wisconsin. Our goal is completing 85,000 tests per week or approximately 12,000 tests per day. 

Should I get tested?

  • Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 or who has been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their doctor and ask to be tested.  In general, those not showing symptoms are not being tested at this time.
  • You can also be tested at a community testing site (below). Testing will be provided at no cost. Some locations may require a doctor’s note or appointment to receive a test.
  • Questions about whether or not you should get tested? Contact your doctor or complete an online health screening assessment, and a licensed health practitioner will contact you.

While awaiting COVID-19 test results, you should follow recommendations to self-isolate and self-monitor in order to protect yourself and your community from COVID-19.

What are symptoms of COVID-19?

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell

 

Not everyone with COVID-19 has all of these symptoms. For many, symptoms are mild, with no fever. Some people may also experience fatigue or gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain. It is important to know that you can still spread the virus to others even if you have mild or no symptoms.

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after contact with someone who has COVID-19.

Can I get an antibody test?

If you you had symptoms of COVID-19 and have since recovered, or if you think you may have had it but did not show symptoms, you may also be able to get an antibody test. Antibody tests will not tell you if you currently have COVID-19, but can let you know if you had it at some time in the past.

Community testing sites are not providing antibody testing at this time. If you would like an antibody test, contact your doctor to ask for one.

What is antibody testing?

Antibody testing uses a blood sample to look for proteins in your blood that help fight infection. These proteins, or antibodies, are produced by your body during and after an infection. Testing your blood for antibodies can determine if you have had COVID-19 at some time in the past. Antibody testing should not be used to determine if you currently have COVID-19.

How does antibody testing work?

Antibody testing works by looking for antibodies to COVID-19 in your blood. Antibodies are produced by your body to help fight off an infection. If antibodies are found in your blood, it can mean that you have had COVID-19 in the past.

Can antibody testing be used to diagnose COVID-19 infection?

No. Antibody testing is not used to determine if you currently have COVID-19. It can take one to three weeks for your body to make antibodies to an infection. This means that you can have COVID-19 without having antibodies present in your blood. A different type of testing, which detects the virus directly, is used to diagnose COVID-19.

Can an antibody test tell me if I am immune to COVID-19?

No. Antibody testing can determine whether antibodies are present in an individual’s blood. It cannot determine that an individual is immune to or protected from future COVID-19 infection. It is currently unknown if antibodies provide protection or immunity against COVID-19.

Can antibody testing be used to inform workplace decisions, such as who can safely return to work or who does or does not need to use personal protective equipment?

Antibody testing should not be used to inform workplace decisions, including return-to-work or personal protective equipment decisions. Antibody testing can only determine whether antibodies are present in an individual’s blood. We don’t know yet whether having antibodies means that a person is immune to or protected from future COVID-19 infection. 

Why is antibody testing beneficial?

Antibody testing can be beneficial in several ways:

  • Data from antibody testing can help researchers build greater knowledge of COVID-19, including understanding how many people have been infected, what the prevalence is within communities, and how the virus spreads, among other research questions.  
  • Antibody testing can support an experimental treatment for individuals who are ill with COVID-19, known as “convalescent plasma therapy.” People who are identified as having antibodies to COVID-19 can donate plasma, which is being studied as a treatment for people with current COVID-19 infection. 
  • Antibody testing can also be used by scientists to assess the response of the body to vaccines as they are being developed.

Are antibody tests reliable?

Antibody testing can produce results with varied reliability. While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several commercially manufactured antibody tests for use, the reliability of these tests is still being evaluated by the CDC and other federal agencies. 

Sources

Where can I get tested in my community?

The map below displays current COVID-19 community testing sites in Wisconsin. This map will be updated daily. Click on the yellow dot for specific information for each testing site, including day(s) of operation, hours, and contact information.

Each site may have different requirements. Some sites may ask you to stay in your car. Other sites will screen you before you come indoors. Many sites will require an appointment before you arrive in order to ensure they’ve collected your contact and insurance information.

Testing site information changes frequently. For the most up-to-date information about each testing site you may wish to contact your local health department.

If your community has a community testing site you would like to be included on this map, please complete this survey with details to include on the map.

Note: The testing sites listed below are to check for current COVID-19 infection. If you wish to receive an antibody test, contact your doctor to request one. 

 
Last Revised: May 27, 2020

 RESPONSE RESOURCES FOR WISCONSINITES — www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/help.htm