COVID-19 and Testing: Here Are Answers to Some Frequently Asked Questions for Seniors

As the U.S. learns to live with COVID-19, some people also must learn to live with regular COVID-19 testing. For instance, workers in hospitals, health care facilities, and senior living homes may be subject to regular tests for coronavirus. Senior living and nursing home residents also may have to undergo regular testing. So, when should you get tested for COVID-19? Where can you find COVID-19 testing in Manatee or Sarasota counties? How long does it take to get test results? Here is some much-needed clarification on COVID-19 testing.

What does a COVID-19 test show?

A viral test for COVID-19 shows if you currently have the coronavirus. In other words, the test shows if you have the active virus at the time that you take the test. You could have had the virus in the past, but that won’t show on the test. There is an antibody test that can help show if you had it before. This is different from the viral test.

What happens during a COVID-19 test?

The most common test for COVID-19 is a nasal swab. During this test, a health worker will put a six-inch cotton swab up both sides of your nose. He or she will move the swab around for approximately 15 seconds, according to WebMD. The test generally doesn’t hurt, although you may feel a little uncomfortable. 

There are other types of COVID-19 tests that are under development and/or that are in smaller-scale use. However, the nasal swab is currently the most common test used.

How often should I get tested for COVID-19?

The answer depends on where you work or live and whether or not you have symptoms. For instance, if you don’t live in a senior facility, then you would likely get tested if or when you have coronavirus-related symptoms. The current list of symptoms from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention includes:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue 
  • Sore throat

There are many other possible symptoms, and the list gets updated as the CDC obtains more information about the virus. The symptoms also can overlap other common health problems, such as colds or allergies. 

If you work or live in a nursing home or senior living facility, you may need to get tested for COVID-19 regularly. That’s because the test is designed to show if you have the virus at the time when you take the test. However, you could have a negative result at one point in time but then get the virus at a later time.

The CDC has recommendations for nursing homes on how often to test residents. This could mean testing residents as often as every 3 to 7 days.

Where can I get tested for COVID-19 in Manatee County or Sarasota County?

Here is a list of where to get tested for COVID-19 in Manatee County. Here is a separate list of facilities in Sarasota County. Make sure to check the websites before going for a test. For instance, you can show up in Manatee County without an appointment, but appointments are required in Sarasota. Also, there is a limited number of tests available each day, so health workers may give priority to those with the symptoms most strongly associated with coronavirus, such as shortness of breath and fever. Also, check with your doctor about tests available at their office or other nearby facilities, such as pharmacies.

Is it free to get a COVID-19 test?

It is free if you get a test through the local counties. Tests done at a doctor’s office or pharmacy may have associated charges. Always ask in advance if you are not sure.

How long will it take to get results?

Although there are tests under development to provide rapid results, the nasal swab test currently used takes about a week. There may be a longer delay due to backlogs.

Call Secure Aging to Find Out How We Can Help Seniors With Care Management

At Secure Aging in Bradenton, we transform the weight of the world into a sigh of relief for our senior clients and their concerned family members. The mission of Secure Aging is to protect and preserve our client’s independence and dignity through careful and thoughtful financial and care management. As our clients' age, it is their desire to remain independent and age with dignity. Our services protect our clients from talented con artists looking to exploit and deplete the financial resources of our vulnerable seniors. Secure Aging helps families in Manatee County and Sarasota County and in and around the communities of Anna Maria, Bradenton, Bradenton Beach, Ellenton, Holmes Beach, Lakewood Ranch, Longboat Key, Myakka City, Palmetto, Parrish, and Sarasota. Call us at 941-761-9338, or visit us online at

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