So, what is testing like for COVID-19?

Updated: Mar. 10, 2020 at 10:10 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabama has started the testing process for COVID-19 - or the coronavirus. There have been about 20 tests done and no reported cases.

The test is similar to tests done for the flu or strep throat. Doctors would put a swab in your mouth or nose to collect and sample and send it off to the state lab in Montgomery. The turnaround time for results is about 24 hours.

You can't just ask your doctor to perform a test. You have to meet certain guidelines outlined by the CDC before a test can be performed. A health examiner would look for things like cough or fever and consider your travel history and if you've come in contact with a person who has tested positive for the virus.

Although you may be able to work through your primary doctor to get a test set up, you won’t be able to go to their office to have the test conducted.

“When we get called by someone who has a candidate for testing that’s appropriate, we arrange to get that person tested safely and appropriately. Usually it might be some facility that’s associated with a hospital or some place that has trained staff and has personal protective equipment,” said Dr. Scott Harris with the Alabama Department of Public Health.

State health officials say there are also some commercial labs across the state conducting tests as well.

Health leaders stress if you think you may have contracted the coronavirus, call ahead before arriving to any health care facility because the virus is highly contagious and staff need time to prepare for necessary safety measures.

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