Published Sept. 2, 2020.
- Be aware COVID-19 testing guidance has not changed in Washington State or Pierce County.
- Test all patients with COVID-19 symptoms and their close contacts, even if asymptomatic.
- Wait at least 5 days after exposure to test those without symptoms.
- Be aware Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) updated its guidance on the frequency COVID-19 testing required for long-term care staff and residents.
On Aug. 26, Washington State Department of Health released a notification that COVID-19 testing is still advised for people with symptoms and close contacts of confirmed cases.
Test all patients with COVID-19 symptoms and their close contacts, even if they are asymptomatic.
Test all patients with new onset of COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of age or health status. We encourage broad testing.
A close contact is someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting 2 days before symptom onset (or, for asymptomatic people, 2 days prior to first positive test) until the end of their isolation period. Close contacts who test negative still need to remain in quarantine for 14 days after their last date of exposure.
If using RT-PCR tests, wait at least 5 days after exposure to test those without symptoms.
Recent research has shown that testing on day 8 after exposure to SARS-COV-2 can yield the lowest false negative rate (20%). It is critical to understand how predictive value changes depending on day of symptom onset and type of test used. People with symptoms should be tested within 24-48 hours of symptom onset. For those who are exposed and do not develop symptoms, wait at least 5 days after exposure to test.
Updated testing guidance for long-term care facilities.
CMS updated its interim guidance on facility testing requirements to reflect what events trigger testing and how routine testing should vary based on community COVID-19 activity. One new case is considered an outbreak. All staff and residents should be tested, and all staff and residents who test negative should be retested every 3-7 days until no new cases are identified for at least 14 days since the most recent positive case. Facilities should contact the Health Department when any person in their facility tests positive for COVID-19.
- DOH testing guidance, June 28, 2020.
- Interim guidance for rapid antigen testing for SARS-COV-2, Aug. 29, 2020.
- CMS testing guidance for long-term care staff and residents, Aug. 26, 2020.
COVID-19 test processing
Labs need varying amounts of time to process COVID-19 tests. For faster turnaround, we encourage providers to use in-state labs. See current processing times for in-state private labs below.
|Lab||Time to process test||Tests processed daily|
|LabCorp||48 hours-4 days||200,000 nationally|
|Northwest Pathology||24-48 hours||7,000|
|FidaLab||Monday-Thursday: 24 hours, Friday-Saturday: 72 hours||700-1,000|
Immediately report COVID-19
- To report a notifiable condition, call (360) 414-5599 x 6431 during business hours, (360) 636-9595 after hours or use the Reportable Disease Fax Form.
- Cases in the following people—call (360) 414-5599 x 6431
- Healthcare workers (e.g., EMS, medical, nursing, any healthcare facility employee).
- Public safety workers (e.g., law enforcement, firefighter).
- Staff or resident of long-term care facilities, senior living centers, permanent supportive housing or similar congregate settings (e.g., shelter, correctional facility).
- Anyone who dies with COVID-19.
- Anyone with suspected MIS-C.
Share these materials with patients.
- What to do if you have COVID-19.
- What to do if you may have been exposed to COVID-19.
- What to do if you have symptoms of COVID-19 and haven’t been exposed or tested.