The current COVID-19 surge and its increase in testing has left many parents with questions. This list of common FAQs around COVID testing is designed to help families better understand the testing process.
PCR vs. rapid COVID test: Which one does my child need?
Currently, there are two primary tests for COVID-19: Rapid antigen tests and molecular, PCR tests. Rapid antigen tests are available over the counter, while PCR tests are administered at a healthcare provider or testing site.
Rapid tests can be more easily accessible, but they can also produce false negatives if you haven’t waited long enough (usually 5 days) from exposure to the virus to test. PCR tests are more sensitive and can detect the virus at lower levels than rapid tests. Rapid test results are available within 15 minutes, and PCR results usually take up to three days.
What do my child’s test results mean?
If your child was tested because they have symptoms or were exposed and the result is positive, it means they have COVID-19. They should isolate for 10 days. Your child can come out of quarantine if they have a negative test at any point during quarantine if they are symptomatic or if they have a negative test at 5 days post-exposure if they are asymptomatic.
Other members of your household or people who have had close contact with your child may also need to quarantine.
If your child’s test results are negative, they do not have COVID-19. But remember, if it has been less than 5 days since your child was exposed to the virus, your test result may not be accurate.
My child is sick. When do they need emergency care?
If your child’s symptoms worsen, contact their healthcare provider or go to the ER. Signs your child needs emergency care include:
• Fast breathing, pulling under the ribs or collarbone, nostrils widening during breathing, grunting, unable to talk or severe pain
• Unable to eat or drink enough, urinating less than 3 times in 24 hours
• Severe vomiting or diarrhea
• Fever greater than 100.4 F for longer than 5 days.
Need to schedule a drive-through test? Do so here. Have more questions about COVID-19? Visit our frequently asked questions page for more information.