FAQs

COVID-19: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Also known as Coronavirus Disease 2019, COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a newly identified coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). This novel coronavirus is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, such as the common cold. While some patients with COVID-19 may be asymptomatic, others may experience symptoms ranging from mild to severe respiratory illness, with the potential of developing serious or critical complications. Symptoms may appear within 2-14 days of exposure and may include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of smell and/or taste
  • Conjunctivitis (“pink-eye”)

If you feel you are experiencing a medical emergency that may or may not be related to COVID-19, you should seek emergency medical attention immediately by calling 911.

For more information on symptoms of COVID-19, visit CDC’s Symptoms of Coronavirus.

The virus (SARS-Cov-2) may be spread through close person-to-person contact (less than 6 feet); via respiratory droplets (from coughing or sneezing); or self-inoculation through touching ones mouth, nose or eyes following contact with the virus on a surface or object. While the virus appears to be most easily spread by symptomatic patients, it is also possible for transmission to occur via persons not yet experiencing symptoms of infection. For more information on how to protect yourself and help prevent the spread of infection, visit CDC’s How to Protect Yourself & Others.

There are currently no FDA-approved medications available specifically for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19 although some are currently under investigation. Supportive therapies may be used to help in the relief of certain symptoms or to support vital organ functions. Contact your healthcare provider for more information regarding treatment of symptoms.

Individuals aged 65 or older, those living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities, immunocompromised persons, or persons of any age with underlying health conditions are at highest risk of severe illness or complications resulting from COVID-19. Other populations at a higher risk of illness include pregnant women, individuals experiencing homelessness, and anyone with lack of access to assistance of medical care if they become ill. For more information regarding specific risk factors, visit CDC’s People Who Need to Take Extra Precautions.

TESTING FOR COVID-19

Anesis Spine and Pain Care and Atlas Genomics are partnering to provide easy testing for COVID-19. However we are not providing individuals with medical advice or evaluation nor do we provide a determination of eligibility for testing. Atlas Genomics is allocating a limited number of tests without the requirement of a medical examination or evaluation. The majority of our testing capacity will be reserved to support tests that are ordered by physicians and research institution.

Eligibility based on guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is determined by a healthcare provider who uses their medical judgment to determine medical necessity for testing. The CDC’s guidelines can be accessed by visiting Evaluating and Testing Persons for COVID-19.

Generally, without a medical exam and evaluation, insurance does not cover the cost of the test since it has not been deemed medically necessary by a licensed medical professional. Patients who feel they are in need of COVID-19 testing and are experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, who have been exposed to COVID-19 or believe they may have been exposed, should first contact their healthcare provider regarding testing.

If you are not experiencing symptoms and have had no known potential exposure to anyone that was infected, it is probably better to not get tested and reserve the testing for those that need it. However, the CDC warns that as many as 25% of people infected with COVID-19 may not show any symptoms. If you need to care for high risk family members such as an elderly parent or grandparent or someone with underlying health conditions, it may be wise to get tested if you have concerns. People who work in hospitals, assisted living/skilled nursing facilities and first responders may want or need to be tested whether they have symptoms or not.

Useful articles: NYT Infected but Feeling Fine: The Unwitting Coronavirus Spreaders.

No you will not be denied testing. We are not providing any medical evaluation of symptoms or your need to be tested. We are a laboratory that provides laboratory testing only. If you pay for the test, we will run the test. See answer to Question #5.

Unfortunately, there are those who would take advantage of a public health crisis to try to scam unwitting people with unapproved or fraudulent tests. Consumers should be careful to choose tests that are legitimate and reliable. We recommend people only use tests that have been authorized under the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and from laboratories that are CLIA-certified to perform high-complexity testing. Atlas Genomics is a CLIA-certified, high-complexity molecular laboratory that is performing PCR-based testing for COVID-19, authorized under the FDA’s EUA.

The FDA’s statement regarding unauthorized fraudulent COVID-19 test kits can be found here.

A cash pay option allows immediate access to COVID-19 testing when you feel it is necessary to get tested without the hassle of having to get a physician’s referral for the test. We believe more widespread testing is necessary to help halt the spread of the virus. Requiring the intervention of a doctor to be able to get tested adds delay as well as strain on resources at the medical clinics and hospitals. Testing is straightforward and easy to access at one of our several testing locations.

Useful articles: Seattle Times- Coronavirus testing troubles persist as patients are turned away, even as lab capacity in Seattle expands.

Atlas Genomics is a CLIA-certified high-complexity molecular diagnostics laboratory. Testing for COVID-19 is performed at Atlas by trained clinical laboratory personnel experienced in molecular techniques, using a test system authorized for use under the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization.

For more information on the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorizations, visit their page here.

Initially, the FDA required a nasopharyngeal specimen to be collected which is the very back nasal cavity. This was often uncomfortable and sometimes painful. However more recently, the FDA approved mid-turbinate or anterior nares sample collection for symptomatic patients which means in the nostril. This type of collection should not be painful or uncomfortable in most cases.

There are multiple collection sites in the Puget Sound area where you may visit to provide a sample for testing. Visit our website for the most up to date list of locations and hours of operations as our schedule may change over time based on demand and staff availability.

You may purchase tests for yourself and for minors for whom you are the parent or legal guardian. You may purchase the test for others but each adult must register and create their own account due to HIPAA requirements.

At this time, we require you to arrive by vehicle and wait in the vehicle for the duration of your appointment.

In the interest of promoting safe social-distancing and not exposing others unknowingly, we do not promote or endorse the use of ridesharing options such as Uber or Lyft to come for testing at this time.

COST and PAYMENT INFORMATION

If you are self-requesting a test without a medical examination by visiting one our collection sites, the cost of the test is $99.00. If your physician is ordering the test, the test is billed to your health insurance carrier and is subject to the terms of your coverage (including any applicable copays or fees associated with the physician’s visit).

Many insurances have waived co-pays and fees for COVID-19 testing so it is possible you could be tested for free. However, the requirements at this time for insurance coverage of tests is based on need and medical necessity. This requires seeing your doctor and having him/her make that determination. If you believe you would qualify for testing under the care of your physician and the guidelines of your insurance carrier, we recommend you do so. Some people would prefer not to wait to see a doctor and be uncertain if they are eligible to be tested or not. For those who want to bypass the traditional process and get tested right away, possibly the same day, and receive results within 24 hours, we provide a simple and safe alternative.

Go to https://covid-19.atlas-genomics.com and register. Then place an order for the test and pay with a credit card online.

We do not bill insurance for patients registering and paying for the test. However, if we receive tests from a hospital, clinic or doctor where the test has been ordered by a provider, we will bill insurance for the test. This is a separate process from the self-ordered test.

You may submit a claim to your insurance but in many cases, without a physician’s order, it may not be reimbursed.

Downtown Public Health Center in Seattle provides free testing for those who have COVID-19 symptoms and do not have access to health care.

PREPARING FOR MY APPOINTMENT

What you need to know about your Appointment

You will need a valid form of government issued ID such as a driver’s license, military ID or passport to present to the clinic staff prior to sample collection.

No. Take a deep breath and relax. Clinic staff will provide you with instructions on sample collection upon meeting you at your vehicle. There is no need to clean or blow your nose in preparation for sample collection.

You are welcome to wear gloves and a mask but you will be required to remove the mask to collect the sample from your nose.

Please arrive during your designated appointment window. You do not need to arrive early.

If there is an open time in the following appointment window, we will make a reasonable attempt to fit you in. Otherwise, you will need to reschedule.

All tests are by appointment only. Since we limit the number of appointments and schedule in 30-minute windows, the maximum wait should not be more than 30 minutes except in unusual circumstances. Typically, it should be much less than 30 minutes and often, there will be no wait time at all.

Yes, it is acceptable for families to come together if you find a time slot (30-minute window) that has availability for the number of people coming together. Each person must have ordered a test and made an appointment prior to arriving.

Sample collection should take less than 1 minute. While the preferred specimen is a nasopharyngeal swab (back of the nasal cavity), collection of specimen requires a trained healthcare professional with personal protective equipment (PPE) and it also takes more time. Given the shortage of supplies and PPE, the FDA has provided alternative recommendations for the use of nasal swab specimens in symptomatic patients. These specimens are self-collected by the patient from the front part of the nostril and middle of the nasal cavity. For patients not experiencing symptoms, this sample type will still be accepted but may have decreased sensitivity. This means that there is an increased potential for false negative tests and caution should be taken when interpreting a negative result. In most cases, self-collection of this type of sample should not be painful.

Useful articles:

  1. MedTechDive- UnitedHealth says self-swabbing study spurred FDA coronavirus policy change
  2. TechCrunch - FDA updates COVID-19 testing guidelines to allow self-swab tests

Although drive-thru is effective in keeping patients isolated in their cars to prevent the spread of infection, we believe we have a better solution. By scheduling patients within a 30-minute window and having patients park their car and notify us of their arrival (check-in) using their phone, we can eliminate the long line of cars, reduce wait times and reduce emission from cars while maintaining the safety of patient isolation in cars. Previously, the FDA and CDC required a medical staff member to collect the sample. However, recently the FDA and CDC have made additional recommendations for patients to self-collect samples as long as this is performed onsite at collection sites and/or under supervision of a healthcare professional.

Useful articles: Associated Press - Chaos, inconsistency mark launch of drive-thru virus testing

AT MY APPOINTMENT

Clinic staff will provide you with collection instructions and a sample collection kit when you arrive. The collection kit will include a swab that you will insert into your nose to collect your sample. You will need to swab both nostrils in order to obtain optimal sample for this specimen type. Our trained clinic staff member will observe your collection to ensure it has been properly performed. After sample collection, the staff member will take the sample from you.

Collection video example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55cA9ZOdVFI

Clinic staff will do their best to ensure proper sample collection but an insufficient sample or improper collection is still possible. Should this be realized on site during the collection process, clinic staff may ask you to re-collect the sample. An insufficient sample or improper collection may result in a false negative test result.

AFTER MY APPOINTMENT - RESULTS

Because we are currently only providing testing in the local Puget Sound area, in most cases, we will release results within 24 hours of sample receipt in the laboratory.

Test results will be delivered online through the secure portal where you registered for the test. You will receive an email notifying you when your test result is available.

If the virus (SARS-CoV-2 RNA) was detected, not detected, or the result was inconclusive.

A positive result is indicative of the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA but does not rule out bacterial infection or co-infection with other viruses. You should immediately isolation yourself and consult with your physician to discuss your positive test result.

NOTE: SARS-Cov-2 is considered a notifiable condition under Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 246-101, Notifiable Conditions. Results for COVID-19 testing will be reported to the Washington State Department of Health as required.

A negative result only indicates that SARS-CoV-2 RNA was not detected. A negative result does not positively preclude the presence of COVID-19 and be must be combined with clinical observations, patient history, and epidemiological information for patient management. In addition, a false negative test result may occur in cases of suboptimal or insufficient sample material or as a result of improper specimen collection. A negative result also does not rule-out the potential to become infected with COVID-19 in the future. You should consult with your physician if you have any questions or concerns.

NOTE: SARS-Cov-2 is considered a notifiable condition under Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 246-101, Notifiable Conditions. Results for COVID-19 testing will be reported to the Washington State Department of Health as required.

An inconclusive result indicates that Atlas was unable to reliably determine a result from the submitted specimen. A recollection of the specimen and re-testing may be indicated. If the result remains inconclusive after repeat testing, the specimen may be submitted to the CDC for further testing and determination.

NOTE: SARS-Cov-2 is considered a notifiable condition under Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 246-101, Notifiable Conditions. Results for COVID-19 testing will be reported to the Washington State Department of Health as required.

SAFETY

All personnel will adhere to CDC recommended hygiene practices and wear appropriate CDC recommended personal protective equipment (PPE).

When you arrive for your appointment, you will remain in your car. Using your phone and a unique link provided to you when you schedule an appointment, you will notify us of your arrival by checking in. A staff member will come to your car and verify your ID and provide you with collection instructions and a sample collection kit. You will self-administer the collection and give the sample to our staff. Then you are free to leave.

Personal protective equipment such as masks are not required for visitors because you will remain in your own car while collecting your sample for testing

MORE QUESTIONS? CONTACT US

Click here for a link to the FDA’s website with FAQ on diagnostic testing for SARS CoV-2 (COVID-19).