Testing for Covid-19 when experiencing symptoms or after a known exposure, regardless of vaccination status, continues to be one of the best tools we have for combating the pandemic. There continues to be robust testing options available not just in Pitkin County, but in the whole of the Roaring Fork Valley.
Pitkin County Public Health can not provide you with your test results, please contact the provider who administered the test directly.
Should I take a PCR or an antigen test?
- PCR tests are considered the gold standard in diagnostic testing. If you start feeling ill, have a runny nose, cough, or know that you’ve been exposed, PCR is the way to go to rule out Covid-19. PCR tests are available at local community testing sites or at some schools in the form of CUE testing.
- Antigen/at-home tests are good for serial testing programs (testing multiple times per week) or for testing on day 6 of isolation if you have Covid-19 and are without fever/feeling better to ensure you are no longer contagious.
Federal Rapid At-home Testing Program
Interested in receiving rapid Binax At Home antigen tests? You can order federal rapid tests. Note* increased testing demand may cause shipping delays.
If your at-home test result is positive, let Pitkin County Public Health know by filling out a self-report form.
I took a COVID-19 test, whats next?
If you have already taken a COVID-19 test, take a look at our testing process page to find out what to do next.
If you test positive for COVID-19, self-report to Pitkin County. Self-reporting connects families and COVID-19 positive individuals to resources such as rent/grocery assistance and treatment options. It also allows for better data used in informing management decisions.
- PCR Test (Molecular test): The most sensitive and specific test available. These tests use laboratory techniques in order to determine if there is any Covid-19 DNA present in the sample. Because these types of tests require laboratory analysis, samples often need to be sent to the lab for processing which is why there is a wait time to receive your results. There are a few options in the Roaring Fork Valley to receive a ‘rapid’ PCR test, which means those sites who offer it have the ability to run the laboratory analysis on their site.
- Antibody Test: This test is used, predominantly in medical or research settings, to determine if an individual has previously been infected with Covid-19. When your body’s immune system fights off a viral infection, like Covid-19, you produce antibodies which combate that specific virus. These antibodies are also what vaccines produce. These tests are not used to determine active infection status or how effective a vaccine is.
- Antigen Test (Rapid Test): These tests are popular because they provide results quickly, however they are not as specific or sensitive as PCR or other molecular tests. This means that they will produce more false positives and false negatives than the molecular tests. This test looks for active infections by testing for certain proteins found in the virus. Most ‘At Home’ testing options are antigen tests and they are often used for serial testing programs. In order to increase effectiveness, antigen tests should be used on symptomatic individuals and proctored by a healthcare professional.
Sensitivity vs. Specificity
- Test Sensitivity: Ability of a test to detect a true negative test. Tests with high sensitivity will return fewer false negatives.
- Test Specificity: Ability of a test to detect a true positive test. Tests with high specificity will return fewer false positives.
When should I get tested?
You should seek a test as soon as you begin experiencing symptoms; fever of 100.4°F or higher, sneezing, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell, fatigue, body aches, headache, sore throat, chills, diarrhea, nausea, runny nose, congestion, stomach pain, or vomiting OR if you know you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive.
What if I’m Vaccinated? You should still seek a test. The delta variant is highly contagious and vaccines are not 100% effective at preventing infection. While you are still highly protected against severe illness, it is still possible for you to become infected and infect those around you
I need a test in order to travel or for an event:
Each airline, country, and event has its own requirement for testing. You should consult with the organization that is requiring testing to see what their unique requirements are. Pitkin County Public Health does not know which test is required for your upcoming travel or event. Please note, Pitkin County is a rural community, and not all testing options are available locally and there can occasionally be delays in shipping due to mountain weather. You should schedule your test with these limitations in mind.
Delay travel until you are fully vaccinated. If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel, follow CDC’s recommendations for people who are not fully vaccinated.
Pitkin County Public Health can not provide you with your test results. Please contact the provider who administered the test in order to receive your results.
Many PCR testing options require shipping samples to a laboratory, these shipping requirements can lead to delays outside of the providers control, such as weather impacts or road closures. Weekends and holidays can also impact test turnaround times; many laboratories don’t run samples on weekends or holidays and shipping times can be impacted.
What to do if you test positive?
You should start quarantining immediately and continue to do so for 10 days. This means removing yourself from as many people, including those in your household, as possible. This includes eliminating day-to-day activities, such as grocery shopping and going to work in person. The goal is to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to more people. Your job is required to give you paid time off in order to recover from a Covid-19 infection, they may require proof of a positive test result. If you reside in Pitkin County, a member of the Pitkin County Contact Tracing team will reach out to you in order to provide further information.
If you need assistance please see our Get Help page
What do you do if you test negative?
If you are not experiencing symptoms, you are free to go about your day. If at any point you begin experiencing symptoms, please isolate and seek another test. If you are currently experiencing symptoms but received a negative test result, please continue to isolate until your symptoms resolve and you are 10 days past symptom onset. If your symptoms worsen, please contact your doctor and seek another test; call 911 if you experience a medical emergency.
If you received a preliminary negative antigen ‘rapid’ test but are awaiting a PCR result, you should continue to isolate until you receive your PCR results.
Contact Tracing Process:
- Expect an email from our contact tracing team within 24-48 hours if your results come back positive for COVID-19 from a PCR test. This will include isolation instructions as well as a questionnaire for contact tracing.
- Since you have tested positive, you must isolate for 5 days, if asymptomatic or symptoms are resolving on day 5, followed by an additional 5 days wearing a mask when around others.
- You are required to cooperate with contact tracing, as outlined in the current Pitkin County Health Order. This process helps keep the community safe and is a requirement of being tested.
- Think back to two days before you began feeling sick and make a list of places you went and people you interacted with. This will greatly help the contact tracing process and completing the survey
- Your health status and medical records will not be shared. Your contacts will not be informed of your name.
- When speaking with Pitkin County Public Health Department, let them know if you need help accessing medication or groceries. The county may also be able to help provide alternate housing if you are unable to quarantine safely in your own home.
- Do not retest unless directed by Public Health. A negative result from a retest will not release you from the isolation requirements.
- Visit our resources page for help across a variety of topics.
- If you are caring for someone who has tested positive (a child or dependent adult), practice good hygiene by washing hands after every contact and wear a mask if you are in the same room. If you need help, call the COVID-19 Helpline at (970) 429-3363 Se habla Español (opción 2, extensión 1001) or email email@example.com.
- Please understand that because you are caring for a positive individual you are in continuous contact with that person and your 5-10 days of quarantine (depending on the situation) will not begin until they have completed their isolation.
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