What you need to know when trying to get a COVID-19 test in Mobile

Mobile County

Midsection of female doctor with swab test sample during COVID-19 crisis. Female medical professional is holding test tube in hospital. She is wearing protective suit. (Getty)

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — With the uptick in COVID-19 cases, finding a testing site can be hard. What’s even harder is finding a testing site that fits your specific needs. Testing sites vary in policy and the type of services they offer. Here’s what you can do to find the right COVID-19 testing site in Mobile.

Check to see what kinds of tests are offered:

When scheduling your appointment, you should check to see what types of tests are available. Each of these tests use different methods to detect the COVID-19 virus in your body. The PCR test is more accurate, but takes longer to get results. An antigen test is quicker, but results are less accurate, according to the CDC website.

If you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19, but can’t take off work, you may be in the market for a rapid test. By checking with the clinic to see what kind of tests are available, you can save time and trouble. A clinic may only have PCR tests when you need a rapid one.

The types of COVID-19 tests are offered at healthcare clinics:

  • Molecular (RT-PCR) test: Detects the virus’s genetic material and determines if you have an active coronavirus infection. (Results in 1 to 3 days, results are more reliable, can detect virus in people with and without symptoms)
  • Antigen test: Detects specific proteins on the surface of the virus. (Results in 15 to 30 minutes, results are less reliable, harder to detect virus in people who don’t show symptoms)
  • Antibody test: Detects antibodies made to fight the COVID-19 virus. This test is not administered to those who may currently have the infection, according to the FDA.

Are appointments required?

CVS and Walgreens pharmacies require an appointment before getting a COVID-19 test. These appointments can be made on Walgreens and CVS websites.

The Mobile County Health Department (MCHD) does not require appointments. The MCHD accepts walk-ins at their free COVID-19 testing at their Festival Center location. To view their hours, click here.

USA Health requires a medical referral and a schedule appointment. Residents can schedule appointment through their phone service from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. or through their website. Their phone number is 1-888-USA-2650.

Urgent Care clinics may require appointments or may be walk-in only. The best way to find out is call an Urgent Care Clinics or visit their website to see if appointments are required.

Don’t go the the ED for a COVID-19 test

Dr. Rhendi Murphee with the MCHD is urging residents not to go to the Emergency Department (ED) for a COVID-19 test.

“If you need emergency healthcare, go to the (ED.) Do not go to get a COVID-19 test. We really need your help with this to try to decompress already busy emergency healthcare departments and overworked healthcare staff.”

Dr. Rhendi Murphy with the MCHD

With the influx of COVID-19, testing sites can be hard to find. Some may resort to going to the Emergency Room, but this can overwhelm healthcare staff. COVID-19 testing should be done at a clinic, urgent care or county site. If you can’t find any COVID-19 testing sites near you, you may have to wait to schedule an appointment.

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