Included in these healthy best practices is getting tested for COVID-19. Whether you are fully vaccinated, have received one of two doses, or are unvaccinated, getting tested is central to doing your part to stop the spread. Before you get tested, make sure you are aware of the types of tests that are available to you and best match your reason for getting tested.
**If you are ill or think you have been exposed to COVID-19, refer to our testing page on the best time to get tested.
Types of Tests
There are currently three types of tests available:
In simple terms, a PCR test is preferred for diagnosing an active case of COVID-19. Depending on the test and provider, there is an option for a ‘rapid’ PCR test, though wait times range from less than an hour to 48 hours.
Receiving an Antigen test will provide you test results quickly, though they are not as definitive as a PCR or Antibody test. This process means that the PCR rapid test result is presumptive while you wait on your antigen test outcome, which is more accurate. If you are needing fast results, this is likely the better testing option for you. These tests are being coupled with PCR rapid tests for symptomatic individuals at the RFV COVID Testing Kiosk in downtown Aspen behind City Hall. As of Monday, September 27, they are also now available at downvalley RFV COVID Testing sites.
Since false negatives are more likely to occur with rapid tests, it is important to continue to quarantine and follow best practices while you wait for the results on your PCR.
Antibody tests are done by a blood draw to see if you have previously been infected with COVID-19 at any time. A positive antibody test indicates active antibodies for COVID-19 as a possible result of either past infection with COVID-19 or vaccination against COVID-19. These tests are not used to diagnose an active COVID-19 infection. COVID-19 antibodies are indicators for protection and help prevent infection; however, some people with antibodies can get sick again or become ill after vaccination. In these cases, antibodies play an influential role in preventing severe disease, hospitalization, and death.
Testing Turnaround Time
If you are traveling or attending an event that needs proof of a negative test, make sure that you allow for enough time so that you are able to get your results and allow for a few days in case results are delayed by bad weather, shipping issues, etc. Testing facilities located in Pitkin County have different and unique turnaround times to take into account. Please contact the provider who administered your test in order to receive your results.
Vaccinated v. Unvaccinated Testing Guidelines for Domestic Travel
If you are fully vaccinated, you can travel safely within the United States while wearing a mask over your nose and mouth on all forms of public transportation. After you return from traveling, make sure to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, and isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms. COVID-19 testing is not required for fully vaccinated individuals or individuals that have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 3 months. You should still follow all other travel recommendations.
If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel, get tested with a viral test 1-3 days before your departure. While you are traveling, you must wear a mask on all forms of public transportation and maintain physical distance. Once you return from your travels, get tested within 3-5 days after travel and stay home to self-quarantine for a full 7 days.
- Even if you test negative, stay home and complete the 7-day quarantine
- If your test comes back positive, isolate yourself to protect others from exposure
- If you do not get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after returning from travel
- Avoid being around those who are at an increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you receive a COVID-19 test or not
Follow all state and local recommendations or requirements.
Seek a testing facility that has the right qualifications that match with your needs or situation (symptomatic, asymptomatic, doctor’s note required, etc.). It is also good practice to ensure that you are taking the right type of test that is needed for your travel or proof of a negative test (Microgen, PCR, nasal, saliva).
Pitkin County Public Health does not know which test is required for your upcoming travel or event, nor can provide you with your test results. You should always consult with the organization that is requiring testing to see what their unique requirements are.