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2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Testing, Treatment, & Care

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Published on January 27, 2020. Last modified on April 02, 2020


Fact Sheet for Healthcare Providers  CDC 2019-nCoV Real- Time RT_PCR Diagnostic Panel Updated 3/15/2020

COVID-19 Testing at the Monterey County Public Health Laboratory - 3/16/2020 

COVID-19 is diagnosed utilizing a type of testing technology called reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, or RT-PCR.  Medical providers swab the inside of a patient's nose and throat.  The specimens are sent to a laboratory that performs COVID-19 RT-PCR testing.

The Monterey County Health Department does not prohibit medical providers from collecting patient specimens and submitting them to commercial laboratories like Quest and Lab Corp for COVID-19 testing.  Medical providers may utilize their own clinical judgement and available resources to screen, swab, and order tests for their patients.  At this time, there are no limitations on the number of specimens Quest, Lab Corp, and other commercial laboratories will receive from medical providers.

Monterey County Health Department's Public Health Laboratory has been approved by the CDC to test for COVID-19.  Information about how many tests the Public Health Laboratory has performed is available on the Local Data tab of this website.  Monterey County Public Health Laboratory prioritizes specimens from regional hospitals to:

  1. Inform clinical decision-making processes on individuals severely ill with respiratory illnesses of unknown etiology and on individuals with underlying health conditions that make them at higher risk for severe COVID-19 disease.
  2. Provide results to local hospitals faster than commercial labs can so that hospital staff can minimize unnecessary use of scare personal protective equipment and airborne infection isolation rooms.
  3. Quickly screen health care workers and first responders who may have been exposed to a patient with COVID-19 to maintain a robust health care workforce.
  4. Screen individuals with signs and symptoms of COVID-19 who have either had high risk exposures or work in settings where they could potentially pass the disease to many individuals at high risk for severe COVID-19 disease. Because of the rapidly evolving situation worldwide, nationally, and in California, the definition of “high risk exposure” changes with the current known epidemiology of COVID-19.

If you have recently traveled to an area with a COVID-19 and are ill, have had contact with some diagnosed with COVID-19, or have lower respiratory symptoms (e.g, fever with cough), call you medical provider.  Your medical provider will determine if you need medical care and and testing.  Laboratories like Quest, Lab Corp, and the Monterey County Public Health Laboratory do not collect the nose and throat swabs needed to test for COVID-19.  Collection of the swabs must occur in a medical facility and be ordered by a licensed medical provider.  Please do not go to a laboratory to have your nose and throat swabbed; they will be unable to conduct the procedure.

Except in certain circumstances where the exposure risk may be high, COVID-19 testing is not currently recommended for well people who have traveled recently to determine whether or not they were exposed to COVID-19.  Testing is also generally not recommended for well individuals who have been in contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19.  Testing should be reserved for ill individuals at this time.

Treatment and Care

There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19 infection. People infected with COVID-19 may receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions. Individuals with COVID-19 should:

  • Consider the use of over-the-counter medications to reduce symptoms of fever, coughing, and congestion;
  • Reserve emergency room visits for serious illness and medical emergencies like injuries, difficulty breathing, chest pain, and altered levels of consciousness; and
  • Call your medical provider before visiting the office. Most otherwise healthy individuals with mild respiratory symptoms may not need to see a medical provider.


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