Molecular (PCR) Testing FAQs
The information below provides answers to frequently asked questions.
Providers should not refer any patients suspected (persons under investigation) or confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 to an AEL Patient Service Center or other phlebotomy sites. Only select AEL Patient Service Centers and phlebotomy sites are able to collect nasopharyngeal specimens. All Patient Service Centers are able to collect for the antibody blood test with a provider order.
How do I order the molecular (PCR) COVID-19 Test?
What is Molecular (PCR) Testing for COVID-19?
Uses nucleic acid-amplification technology (e.g., PCR), which detects the genetic information and indicates active infection with the virus which causes COVID-19.
What does it mean if the specimen tests NEGATIVE for the virus that causes COVID-19?
A negative test result for this test means that SARS-CoV-2 RNA was not detected in the specimen. However, a negative result does not completely rule out COVID-19 and should not be used as the sole basis for treatment or patient management decisions. When diagnostic testing is negative, the possibility of a false negative result should be considered in the context of any recent exposure and clinical signs or symptoms that may suggest COVID-19. The possibility of a false negative result should especially be considered if COVID-19 is clinically likely and diagnostic tests for other causes of illness (e.g., other respiratory illness) are negative. If COVID-19 is still suspected, re-testing should be considered by healthcare providers in consultation with public health authorities.
What does it mean if the specimen tests POSITIVE for the virus that causes COVID-19?
A positive test result indicates that SARS-CoV-2 RNA was detected, and the patient is presumably infected with the virus and presumably contagious. Laboratory test results should be considered in the clinical and community context to establish a final diagnosis and care plan. Positive results do not rule out simultaneous bacterial infection or co-infection with other viruses. Patient management decisions should be made by a healthcare provider and should follow the current CDC guidelines. The COVID-19 test has been designed to minimize the likelihood of false-positive test results, but it may not be possible to completely exclude a false positive.
Are Patient Service Centers (PSC)/In-Office Phlebotomists (IOP) allowed to collect specimens (e.g., nasopharyngeal, oropharyngeal swabs) for COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 testing?
Patient Service Centers (PSC) and In-Office Phlebotomists (IOPs) are able to draw blood for the COVID-19 antibody tests. IOPs do not collect respiratory (e.g., nasal pharyngeal swabs, sputum) specimens for COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 testing. Patients should talk to their provider about other options for collection or refer patients to the designated AEL Patient Service Center sites that are prepared to offer nasopharyngeal collections.
Only select AEL Patient Service Centers and phlebotomy sites are able to collect nasopharyngeal specimens. All Patient Service Centers are able to collect for the antibody blood test with a provider order.