COVID Testing

FAQs for COVID-19

Overview and Symptoms:

What is the source of the COVID-19 virus?

On February 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced COVID-19 as the official name of the disease responsible for causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak. The breakdown of the name COVID-19 is “CO” for corona, “VI” for virus, “D” for disease, and “-19” for 2019.

What are symptoms of COVID-19?

COVID-19 has potential to be asymptomatic, meaning not everyone who contracts the virus develops symptoms. Among those with COVID-19,  a wide range of symptoms have been reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with any of the following symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

The CDC provides a frequently update list of symptoms for more information.

How Does COVID-19 spread?


Occurs through respiratory droplets produced when a person sneezes, coughs, or talks. It is believed to be the main way the COVID-19 virus is spreading – between people who are in close contact with one another (6 feet/2 meters or less for a cumulative total of 15 minutes over a 24-hour period).

Airborne transmission:

Transmissions occur within enclosed spaces with inadequate ventilation. An infected person can transmit to another person through heavy breathing, increasing probability.

Surfaces or Objects:

COVID-19 can exist on surfaces or objects, then be transmitted by entering orifices like ones mouth, nose, or eyes. This route of transmission is less common.

Could you still spread the disease if you are asymptomatic?

Yes, if you tested positive for COVID-19 and have no symptoms (asymptomatic), you can still spread the virus to others. This includes both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. That is why non-pharmaceutical interventions (e.g., face coverings, distancing, hand hygiene) are important even after getting vaccinated.

What Are Variants and Why Should I Be Concerned?

Viruses with one or more mutations or changes in genetic code are variants of the original virus. As a virus spreads, it has new opportunities to change and can become more difficult to stop. Variants can be more easily spread or become resistant to treatments or vaccines.

Variants are evaluated for the risk that they pose to the population, including proportions, resistance to treatment, severity of disease, and ability to spread from person-to-person. Variants are then classified in one of four categories:

  • Variant being monitored (VBM),
  • Variant of interest (VOI),
  • Variant of concern (VOC), and
  • Variant of high consequence (VOHC).

Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified the COVID-19 Omicron variant as a variant of concern (VOC). Omicron is also the dominant strain nationwide.

By getting the COVID-19 vaccine, wearing a face covering, maintaining a 6-feet distance, avoiding crowds, and washing your hands often, you can help to slow the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes the COVID-19 infection.

What is an Outbreak of COVID-19?

Outbreaks of contagious disease (such as COVID-19) generally consist of multiple cases of the disease in the same setting over a certain period of time.

What is Multi-System Inflammatory in Children? (MSI-C)

(MIS-C) is a new and rare health condition seen in children and individuals up to 21 years of age, who, in most cases, were infected with COVID-19, recovered, and then later suffered severe inflammation in their organs. MIS-C is like other rare conditions such as Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome that also cause severe inflammation. It is not yet understood why these children and teenagers were more susceptible.

Possible Symptoms of MSI-C?

Call your doctor if your child has had a fever (100.4°F/38°C or higher) for 24 hours or longer AND any of the following symptoms:

  • abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhea
  • rash or changes in skin color
  • breathing problems
  • child seems confused or overly sleepy
  • both eyes appear pink or red
  • swollen lymph node or gland on one side of the neck
  • red cracked lips or a tongue that looks like a strawberry
  • swollen hands or feet, which might also be red

Is MSI-C contagious?

It is not, but if your child is sick, has a fever and any of the symptoms listed above, call your child’s doctor and obtain medical care. If your child is confused, very sleepy or difficult to arouse, go to the emergency department or call 911.

Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome in Adults:

Like children, adults who have been infected with COVID-19 can develop symptoms of MIS-A days to weeks after getting sick. MIS-A is a condition where problems can occur in different parts of the body like the heart, gastrointestinal tract, skin, or brain. Adults with MIS-A may have various signs and symptoms including:

  • Fever
  • Low blood pressure
  • Abdominal (gut) pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Neck pain
  • Rash
  • Chest tightness/pain
  • Feeling very tired

*MIS-A can be very serious, so it is important to seek medical care as soon as possible.

Testing and Treatment: Need help? Visit 2-1-1

Do I Need To Get Tested?

Call your healthcare provider to determine if you have signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and if you should get tested.

For more info

How Is COVID-19 Treated?

Treatment for COVID-19 has evolved since the early days of the pandemic. Treatments used for COVID-19 should be prescribed by your healthcare provider.

People have been seriously harmed and even died after taking products not approved for COVID-19, even products approved or prescribed for other uses. Your healthcare provider will help you to decide what medications are best to take for your treatment.

The scientific and medical community are researching and developing products that can be used to treat or prevent COVID-19 infection. While no single treatment can be considered a “cure” for COVID-19, some medications can be helpful.

What Should I Do if I Am Unable to Work after being exposed to COVID-19?

If a medical professional certifies that you are unable to work due to having or being exposed to COVID-19, you can file a disability insurance claim.

What Is The Difference Between Diagnostic Testing and Diagnostic Screening Testing?

Diagnostic testing for COVID-19 is used to diagnose an individual with COVID-19.

Diagnostic screening testing is recurrent testing of individuals without symptoms to identify COVID-19 early, stop transmission, and prevent outbreaks.

Quarantine and Isolation:

What Is The Difference Between Isolation and Quarantine?

Isolation and quarantine are used to protect the public by preventing exposure to infected people or to people who may be infected by separating those individuals from others to limit the spread of an infectious disease.

Isolation: For people, both symptomatic and asymptomatic, who have or may have COVID-19. They should isolate themselves (i.e., stay home and away from others until recovered) and get tested.

Quarantine: For people who have had close contact with a person with COVID-19, but may not have symptoms yet. People should self-quarantine (i.e., restrict their movement and separate themselves from others) to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and see if symptoms develop

What Are Examples of Preventative Measures?

Here are more steps everyone can take to protect themselves and others:

  • Practice social distancing where required
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds—If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces often.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home and isolate yourself away from others if you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, or your elbow, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Wear a face covering anytime you are in a setting where masks are required for everyone, regardless of vaccination status. Public Health officials strongly recommend wearing a face covering in indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status. Read more about state-wide guidance for the use of face coverings at CDPH’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings.
  • Everyone is encouraged to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect themselves and those around them. The more San Diegans who are vaccinated, the sooner the pandemic will be behind us.

Social Interaction:

What Are My Traveling Guidelines?

Click the link above to see the CDC guidelines.

May I Visit Family, Friends, or Elderly Loved Ones With Disabilities That Need My Help?

If you are both fully vaccinated, then you can visit with each other without wearing masks or physical distancing. If you or the person you are visiting are not fully vaccinated, then you should wear a mask when you are indoors and maintain 6 feet of distance.

People who have a medical condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system may not be fully protected, even if they are fully vaccinated. They should continue to take all precautions recommended for unvaccinated people, including wearing a well-fitted mask, until advised otherwise by their healthcare provider.

Please note that masks and physical distancing are still required for everyone regardless of vaccination status in certain settings like healthcare facilities, nursing homes, and other long-term care facilities.

Why Are People Blaming People Or Groups for COVID-19 And Creating A Stigma?

Stigma is discrimination against an identifiable group of people, a place, or a nation. As a result of this COVID-19 pandemic, stigma is associated with a lack of knowledge about the SARS-CoV-2 virus, that causes the COVID-19 infection, and how it spreads. Usually, this is a result of fears about the disease and its associated death and a need to blame someone.  This stigma creates rumors and myths and hurts others.

People can provide social support and counter stigma by learning and sharing the facts. Communicating the fact that viruses do not target specific racial or ethnic groups and how COVID-19 actually spreads can help stop stigma.