Testing is one of the most important ways Chatham County and North Carolina can push back against the spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. This page includes information about common testing methods, where to be tested and more information about contact tracing.
The COVID-19 Test
Most individuals that contract the coronavirus have a mild illness and can recover at home without medical care. If an individual has symptoms of COVID-19 and is not tested, it is important to stay home and avoid interacting with others.
Two kinds of tests are available for COVID-19: viral tests and antibody tests. A viral test tells someone if they currently have COVID-19. It is also called a diagnostic test. An antibody test tells someone if they had the virus before. A positive test does not mean someone is immune to future infection and following the 3 Ws (Wash your hands, wait 6 feet apart, wear a face covering) is still important.
Who Should Get Tested
North Carolina is focused on rapidly increasing testing of people who may not currently have symptoms, but may have been exposed to COVID-19. Those who should be tested include:
- Anyone with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19.
- Close contacts of known positive cases, regardless of symptoms.
- Groups of some of the populations with higher risk of exposure or a higher risk of severe disease if they become infected. People in these groups should get tested if they believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19, whether or not they have symptoms.
- People who live in or have regular contact with high-risk settings (e.g., long-term care facility, homeless shelter, correctional facility, migrant farmworker camp).
- People from historically marginalized populations who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. This fact sheet provides best practices for community testing in historically marginalized populations.
- Frontline and essential workers (grocery store clerks, gas station attendants, child care workers, construction sites, processing plants, etc.)
- Health care workers or first responders.
- People who are at higher risk of severe illness.
- People who have attended protests, rallies, or other mass gatherings could have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or could have exposed others.
Where to Be Tested
The Chatham County Public Health Department has compiled a list of testing sites in Chatham County where individuals can be tested for COVID-19. Tests are free to everyone, but some sites have specific requirements for setting an appointment or bringing a certain form of identification. Before going to get tested, all are encouraged to make an appointment or consult with their primary care physician.
Representatives of testing sites may email Zachary Horner at email@example.com.
Contact tracing is the process whereby individuals who may have been in close contact with a positive COVID-19 case are identified and informed of their risk of exposure and encouraged to take proactive steps for their health and the health of others.
One key facet of contact tracing is phone calls made to close contacts of individuals who test positive. The CCPHD’s Communicable Disease team regularly calls these individuals and provides them with guidance and information on how to take care of themselves and those around them.
The CCPHD urges residents to pick up the phone and answer all questions honestly from CCPHD staff conducting this work. Without complete answers, COVID-19 is more likely to continue to spread as these contact tracing efforts provide information about where the virus is and who may need services like treatment and testing.
Isolation & Quarantine
Individuals who have any COVID-19 symptoms, were tested because they were exposed to someone with COVID-19, or suspect they may have been exposed to COVID-19, should stay home and, as much as possible, avoid others in their household. In addition, those who were tested because they have COVID-19 symptoms, everyone in their household should stay at home as much as possible until their results are known.
If you are unsure if you need to enter isolation or quarantine, click on the image below:
Isolation separates people who are infected with the virus from people who are not infected. Those who are in isolation should:
- Stay home until it’s safe to be around others.
- Separate from others by staying in a specific room or area and using a separate bathroom (if available).
- Monitor their symptoms. If they have an emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing), seek emergency medical care immediately.
- Don’t share personal household items like cups, towels and utensils.
Quarantine keeps someone who might have been exposed to the virus away from others. Those in quarantine should:
- Stay home for 14 days after their last contact with a person who had COVID-19.
- Watch for symptoms, like a fever, cough and/or shortness of breath.
- Stay away from others, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19.
Those in quarantine and isolation are encouraged to:
- Rest and drink plenty of fluids.
- Follow the 3 Ws inside the home: Wear a cloth face covering or mask over their nose and mouth if they are in a room with others, wash their hands often and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and wait six feet apart from others as much as possible.
- Do not use public transportation, ride shares or taxis.
- Do not prepare or serve food to others.
- Do not allow visitors into your home.