COVID-19 PCR Testing Explained
What is a PCR Test?
PCR tests are how testing for current infection of COVID-19 works. PCR, or Polymerase Chain Reaction is considered by the CDC to be the gold standard for COVID-19 testing. PCR is a molecular diagnostic test in which viral DNA is obtained from samples from the upper and lower respiratory systems such as nasopharyngeal swabs, oropharyngeal swabs, or saliva. Small amounts of DNA are extracted from patient samples and then amplified exponentially via thermal cycling until there is enough material to be detectable using fluorescence.
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PCR Testing FAQs
PCR testing is more accurate than rapid molecular or rapid antigen alternatives. PCR testing of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is ideal for individuals, employers, or companies that need to be confident in the accuracy of their results.
A PCR test is performed by extracting SARS-CoV-2 DNA from the upper or lower respiratory system. The viral DNA is extracted from the specimen and the necessary building blocks are added to the DNA to allow for amplification via PCR. Probes are also added that allow the DNA to be detectable by fluorescence. The material is placed on a thermocycler that uses temperature cycles to amplify the DNA exponentially using a three-step process of denaturation, annealing and extension.
- Denaturation: double-stranded DNA templates are heated to separate the strands.
- Annealing: short DNA molecules called primers bind to flanking regions of the target DNA.
- Extension: where the DNA polymerase extends along the template strands.
During this process every DNA strand creates two DNA strands and results in an exponential increase of DNA. Fluorescent probes are released during this process that allow the detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus spectroscopically.
According to the CDC, the standard turnaround time (TAT) for PCR testing of COVID-19 is approximately 3-11 days. Although the test itself can take as little as 6 hours, high sample volumes can cause labs to be backed up and can greatly extend the average TAT. Private high throughput labs offer a faster alternative.
At Bloom, we have partnered with the finest laboratories in the country to provide you with the fastest turn around times in the industry for PCR testing. Bloom customers can expect results for PCR testing in 2-3 days.
How Your PCR Testing Process Works
Results via e-mail
What Your PCR Test Results Mean
- Stay home except to get medical care.
- Separate yourself from others. Stay in a specific room and away from other people in you home. If possible, use a separate bathroom. If you must be around others, wear a mask.
- Get rest and stay hydrated. Take over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, to help you feel better.
- Monitor your symptoms carefully. If your symptoms get worse, call your healthcare provider immediately.
- Stay in touch with your doctor. Call before you get medical care.
- Your local health authorities may give instruction on checking your symptoms and reporting information.
- Seek medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
- If you have a medical appointment, notify your healthcare provider ahead of time that you have or may have COVID-19.
- Socially distance by avoiding being within six feet of other people.
- Wash hands often for at least 20 seconds
- Before eating or preparing food
- Before touching your face
- After using the restroom
- After leaving a public place
- After blowing you nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After handling your mask
- After changing a diaper
- After caring for someone sick
- After touching animals or pets
- Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others
- Cover coughs and sneezes
- Clean and disinfect
- Monitor your health daily