(NOTE: see Alabama Public Health: http://alabamapublichealth.gov/infectiousdiseases/cov-testing.html)
If a person has questions about being tested for COVID-19, they should call their healthcare provider to make arrangements for testing. It is important to call your healthcare provider’s office before going in to let them know you may have COVID-19. This will help the healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep others from getting infected or exposed to COVID-19.
If you do not have a healthcare provider, please call 1-888-264-2256, starting March 14 at 8:00 a.m. In the event the line is busy, please try to call again.
ADPH is no longer requiring patients meet a certain criteria in order to be tested for COVID-19. However, healthcare providers are the only persons who can perform specimen collections and request testing be completed by our State Lab. Healthcare providers evaluating patients should visit COVID-19 Resources for Healthcare Providers.
Healthcare providers in the state of Alabama who want to test someone for COVID-19 have the option of contacting ADPH for testing through the State Lab, or contacting a commercial laboratory to conduct the testing.
Any person that a physician determines should be tested qualifies for testing. We are recommending that those at the highest risk seek testing for COVID-19.
If testing will be conducted through ADPH, the healthcare provider takes a swab from the nose, using the same kind of swab used for flu tests. The specimen is then put in a viral transport media – again, the same thing used to transport specimens being tested for flu and other viruses. The specimen is shipped overnight to the State Lab, where a COVID-19 test kit provided by the CDC is used to check for the virus. Confirmatory testing is done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. Results are sent to your healthcare provider.
Information on what type of collection materials healthcare providers should use, and how to package and ship specimens, is available on COVID-19 Resources for Healthcare Providers (see Specimen Collection Guidance for Novel Coronavirus).
The State Lab has the ability to conduct testing on 150 COVID-19 specimens each day. The average time frame to conduct testing at the State Lab is between 24 to 72 hours.
Tests are being “batched” which means more than one specimen is tested whenever possible to reserve the limited supplies we have in order to be able to test more people.