COVID-19 Testing: Frequently Asked Questions

May 29, 2020

Atlantic, IA — COVID-19 testing continues across the state of Iowa at healthcare facilities, Test Iowa, and some other locations. As testing becomes more widely available, there are some common questions and answers that officials at Cass County Health System (CCHS) would like to address for our community.

I don’t have any symptoms, but I want to be tested. What are my options?
Individuals who have no symptoms, but would like to be tested should take the online assessment for Test Iowa at Individuals with symptoms should call their healthcare provider’s office before going to any healthcare facility.

Is CCHS testing people for COVID-19? Can I get tested at CCHS?
CCHS continues to test patients for COVID-19. As of May 29, we have tested more than 380 individuals. At CCHS, we will continue to test people while also monitoring our supplies, such as swabs, test kits, and PPE. Some of our tests are sent to the state hygienic lab, some are sent to Mayo Clinic, and a limited number are done on site for specific patients.

Can I have all of my employees tested for COVID-19 at CCHS?
At this time, CCHS does not have the capacity to test large groups of asymptomatic people. Additionally, mass testing of asymptomatic people would have to be done frequently to be effective. Because of national PPE shortages and difficulties securing the necessary supplies for testing, CCHS has to be judicious in our use of tests to ensure that we have what we need for the most critically ill patients or in case of any local outbreaks. As testing supplies become more readily available, we may revisit our testing criteria.

If I get a negative test result, then that means I am in the clear, right?
Not necessarily. Tests are a snapshot in time. You could be exposed to COVID-19 in the morning, tested in the afternoon, get a negative result, and then develop symptoms several days later at which point you would test positively.

Why are the test numbers from CCHS different than what is reported on
CCHS testing numbers can be different from what is reported on for several reasons. For example, someone who lives in Elk Horn might be tested at CCHS. If they have a positive result, then their positive result would show on the state map for Shelby County, not Cass, and it would also show as a positive number on CCHS results. Additionally, as public testing increases through private businesses or Test Iowa sites, Cass County residents may be tested out of the county. Those tests would not be included on CCHS testing results, but would be compiled into the results for Cass County.

What about blood tests? Will an antibody test show whether or not I have already had COVID-19?
There are numerous limitations of these tests, and there are many concerns about their accuracy. There may be a very limited number of situations where serology (antibody) testing may be recommended. We encourage you to speak with your primary care provider about whether or not this testing is appropriate.