Using a long swab that is mildly uncomfortable when placed through your nasal passages, the clinician (e.g. nurse, doctor, or physician assistant) performing the test (wearing protective equipment or PPE) will twist the swab for 10 to 15 seconds (roughly 5 times) in order to get an adequate sample for the lab to look for the COVID-19 virus under the microscope. (NOTE: there are additional terms used for COVID-19.)

This process is done in both nostrils. Occasionally, the clinician will place the swab down your throat instead for an oropharyngeal sample. Closing your eyes helps lessen the discomfort. It will be over quickly, but getting an adequate sample is important.

Gabriella describes what the viral swab test felt like

Who can get the viral test?

To date, most states in the U.S. have confined viral testing to only those who have symptoms suggesting you may be infected with Coronavirus. Other countries have tested a much wider range of people.

With back-to-work plans beginning across the globe, including the United States, determination of who should be tested and when continues to unfold. Viral testing to check whether someone remains contagious, tracing and isolating people who have come in contact with anyone who tests positive for the virus, and antibody testing to see if the viral-positive person now carries immunity fill particular roles in helping us return to our customary lives and activities.

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