Testing: Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs are intended to offer COVIDCheck Colorado clients and partners answers to common questions and participant concerns regarding the RT-PCR nasal test and testing experience.

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What kind of test am I getting? How sensitive is the test?

We currently use the Fulgent COVID-19 by RT-PCR nasal tests. This test is run through 40 cycles of PCR in order to detect the virus as early as possible. The test is highly sensitive in an analytic sense; if viral RNA is present in the sample, it is very likely to be detected. The only cases in which the virus may be present but go undetected are either because of sampling error or the biology of the disease (e.g. virus present in lower but not upper respiratory tract). For more information, you can find the FDA Emergency Use Authorization of the specific tests that we use.

How is the test different from other testing methods?

The nasal swab you receive at a COVIDCheck Colorado testing site may be shallow compared to other methods you have read about. COVIDCheck Colorado tests are performed with a nasal mid-turbinate swab, which compared to a nasopharyngeal swab, is less uncomfortable without compromising on accuracy. About 1% of the time a “test not performed” or “TNP” result will occur. This means that there was an issue with the sample (e.g. not enough material on the swab, damaged tube, or other reasons) and you should get a retest.

Who is administering the test?

All COVIDCheck Colorado medical staff are licensed Medical Assistants, Licensed Practical Nurses, or Registered Nurses. These team members are thoroughly vetted and trained to administer nasal mid-turbinate tests, and comply with all CDC and FDA recommended procedures throughout the testing process. CCC takes quality assurance very seriously and conducts daily checks to ensure all tests are being delivered safely and effectively.

What does the COVIDCheck Colorado testing experience encompass?

COVIDCheck Colorado offers participants a comprehensive testing experience that begins with registering for a test on our partner website. Simply follow the link your organization has sent out, complete the prompts to register an account, and select an appointment time that works with your schedule. On the day of your appointment a member of the CCC team will greet you upon arrival, ensure that you are checked in, and provide directions for which testing lane you should proceed to. When you arrive at the testing area a trained CCC medical team member will explain the sample collection process, complete the nasal swab required from both nostrils, and let you know that test results will be available within 72 hours. Depending on the contact information you provided during registration, you will receive a text message and/or email alert from PrimaryBio when your results are available. Should you notice that your results are delayed, please contact support@covidcheckcolorado.org.

What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?

Quarantine is for people who are not sick, but may have had exposure to someone with COVID-19. Individuals who are quarantined must stay at home so they don’t unknowingly spread the disease. Even if they are feeling well, quarantine lasts for 14 days after the last contact with a person who has COVID-19. During this time, they should watch for COVID-19 symptoms.

Isolation is for people who are already sick. This may be in the form of either a suspected (symptomatic) or confirmed case of Covid-19. Individuals in isolation must stay at home for at least 10 days, and at least 24 hours after fever has improved without the use of fever-reducing medication.

Do we retest positive cases to make sure there is not a "false" positive?

No–false positives are very rare. COVIDCheck Colorado’s RT-PCR test looks at two targets of the virus — if one is negative and one is positive, the result will come back as “Inconclusive,” which may indicate a false positive or represent low levels of virus. If a test result is Inconclusive, the individual should take precautions as though they are positive and retest.

Testing within 90 days of a positive result

Why can’t I schedule a test with CovidCheck Colorado if I’ve tested positive for Covid-19 in the past 90 days?

CovidCheck Colorado uses a highly sensitive PCR diagnostic test; if any viral RNA is present in the sample, it is very likely to be detected. Because of the sensitivity of our tests and the biology of the disease, it is likely that even if you are past the point of potentially infecting others after a CDC-recommended period of isolation, you may still test positive for having the virus present in your body up to 90 days after you contract the disease. 

Another positive result may require you to go through the steps of contact tracing and in some cases, employers are enforcing repeat isolation after the second positive result. To help prevent this scenario, we have added a question prior to scheduling any test with CovidCheck Colorado asking if you have previously tested positive within that time frame.

What does the CDC say? Where can I find more information?

The CDC website states that “for persons recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infection, a positive PCR without new symptoms during the 90 days after illness onset more likely represents persistent shedding of viral RNA than reinfection,” as reinfection of the disease is highly unlikely during this time frame. It is important to note that serologic (antibody) testing should not be used to establish the presence or absence of SARS-CoV-2 infection or reinfection.

The agency recommends not retesting for 3 months after being diagnosed with Covid-19, and suggests that those who develop new symptoms during this period speak to their primary care physician or other healthcare professional. As always, if severe symptoms occur, do not hesitate to seek emergency medical help regardless of the time frame in which you experience them. 

For more information, please feel free to read the key findings from major studies on the subject or visit the relevant page on the CDC website

What do I do if my employer requires a negative result before returning to work?

If you are required to retest within 90 days of a positive test result for any reason, including an employers requirement for a negative result before returning to work, please direct them to this FAQs sheet or the CDC page linked in the question above. If they continue to require you to test within 90 days of a positive, simply select the “No” option when asked if you have tested positive in the past 90 days. Afterwards, you should be able to schedule a test as normal. If you have further questions, please contact support@covidcheckcolorado.com.

What if a test comes back as Test Not Performed (TNP)?

A TNP result means that there was an issue with the sample (e.g. not enough material on the swab, damaged tube, or other reasons) and the patient should get a retest. Unlike a patient who receives an Inconclusive result, they are NOT presumed positive. Individuals receive instructions along with their results to schedule a retest.

What protocols are CCC testing sites following?

CCC testing sites are run in accord with CDC and CDPHE guidelines for PPE usage, social distancing, and hygiene. CCC performs regular quality checks at each test site to confirm appropriate use of PPE, social distancing, and other core protocols that ensure the safety of staff and patients.

SalivaDirect™ FAQs

What kind of test am I getting? How sensitive is the test?
SalivaDirect™ is an FDA Emergency Use Authorization-approved PCR testing protocol where participants provide a saliva sample under the supervision of a medical professional. Yale’s studies have shown that SalivaDirect™ PCR is as sensitive as a nasal PCR test and is both more convenient and comfortable for participants than a nasal swab.

What do I need to know before getting this test?
In order to ensure accurate results, for the 30 minutes prior to your appointment, please do not eat, drink, smoke, chew gum or use nasal sprays, and for the 10 minutes prior to your appointment, please do not drink water.

With SalivaDirect™, saliva samples are self-collected at testing sites under the supervision of a medical professional and then transported to a local lab, enabling results to be delivered to individuals within 24-48 hours, and potentially sooner

How does this test compare to the previous nasal test?
The SalivaDirect™ test is still a RT- PCR test — the main difference is in the mode of collection: the participant provides a saliva sample, vs getting a nasal swab. There is a slight modification in the lab process, resulting in a more efficient sample analysis and a quicker turnaround time for results.

Who else is using SalivaDirect™? Why haven’t I heard of it?
You probably have! The NBA used SalivaDirect™ in “the bubble” to test its players and the protocol is being rolled out to other organizations, institutions, and populations around the country.

Let’s get tested