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What to Do If You (or a Loved One) Might Have Covid-19

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If you’re experiencing constant chest pain or pressure, difficulty breathing, severe dizziness, slurred speech, confusion, an inability to wake up or stay awake, or have bluish lips or face, call 911 or get immediate medical attention. The diagnosis tool made by Apple and the CDC may be useful to check as your symptoms change. If you’re generally too sick to eat, drink, or use the toilet, those are also signs to call your doctor or seek medical help.

If you aren’t experiencing severe symptoms that warrant an emergency, the CDC recommends you stay in touch with your doctor, and call before leaving home to get medical care. Many less serious health visits are being done via Zoom or over the phone, and a call gives them time to plan for your arrival, or discuss specific precautions you should take.

If you have underlying health conditions like asthma, lung disease, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, or a compromised immune system, consider talking to a health professional before your symptoms get too bad (via phone or email). If you have a doctor who specializes in one of these conditions, it’s good to work out a plan with them.

Remember, fellow hypochondriacs: The vast majority of people who contract Covid-19 won’t need medical attention, and most who do need medical help will be OK.

Getting Tested

Photograph: Bob Riha Jr/Getty Images

There are two distinct tests for Covid-19, and both are becoming more widely available.

Viral tests look for whether you have an active coronavirus infection. The CDC considers it appropriate to get a viral test if you have signs or symptoms consistent with Covid-19, or if you have no signs or symptoms but have had contact with a person with a confirmed or suspected case of Covid-19. You can expect results within a few days; isolate yourself during that time until the results come in.

Antibody tests are often quicker to administer but may not be as effective or as accurate as viral tests. They look for whether you’ve been exposed to the virus in the past and are carrying the antibodies in your blood that—scientists suspect—provide some degree of resistance to subsequent reinfection, although medical researchers are still figuring out how much.

There’s no nationally standardized place to go to get tested. Instead, you’ll have to consult your state or local health department to see when, where, and if tests are available to you. WhileAtHome.org has a good state-level directory of numbers and websites. Castlight has created a nationwide search tool for finding local testing sites. Tests are being given in a diverse range of locations, such as community centers, urgent care centers, and hospitals. Some even have drive-through testing where you don’t have to get out of your car.