lab technician putting swab into COVID-19 sample tube

COVID-19 Testing: Your Questions Answered

Not feeling well? You may be wondering if you should get tested for COVID-19. But how do you know for sure? Where can you get a test? What are your options? We’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions about COVID-19 testing to help you determine your next steps.

Who should be tested?

If you have been exposed to COVID-19 or are exhibiting symptoms of the virus, call your primary care provider to find out if you need to be tested. Almost all patients will experience:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Additional symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Who is considered highest priority for testing?

Highest priority testing is reserved for:

  • Health care workers and public health officials who are critical to the pandemic response
  • The immunocompromised, elderly and those with underlying chronic health conditions
  • Hospitalized patients
  • Patients who reside in long-term care facilities

What kinds of testing are available?

There are two kinds of testing available:

A viral test, typically performed by swabbing the inside of the nose, reveals if you have a current infection.

An antibody test can tell you if you had a past infection, as long as the test is performed 1-3 weeks after infection, allowing your body enough time to make antibodies. While this test may be available, it is not known how to best use the test.

Where are places to get tested?

ThedaCare testing is done by appointment only in our hospitals, emergency department and respiratory hub clinics. Community Testing Sites can be found at

How can I schedule an appointment to get tested?

Call your primary care provider, use the ThedaCare symptom checker, or call our COVID-19 hotline at 920-830-6877 to determine if you need testing.

What is the significance of a negative test?

If you test negative for COVID-19, you probably were not infected at the time your sample was collected. However, that does not mean you will not get sick. You might test negative if the sample was collected early in your infection and test positive later during your illness. You could also be exposed to COVID-19 after the test. This means you could still spread the virus. Even if you test negative, you should still take steps to protect yourself and others.

How long does testing take?

The test can be obtained in less than 1 minute. Testing results can take hours to days, depending on testing availability and capacity. Same day testing is reserved for patients with more severe illness and health care workers.