Updated - FHN Implements COVID-19 Testing Criteria

March 16, 2020 – With many individuals requesting testing for COVID-19 (the novel Coronavirus) and confusion at some employers as to when they should expect their employees to be tested, FHN is reminding everyone of the criteria for testing.

As has been accurately reported, as of this date global availability of testing kits for COVID-19 is limited so not all people can be tested on request. Individuals are first screened, which means asking questions about any recent travel and interactions with others, as well as determining if they may be at higher risk for complications from COVID-19, such as adults age 65 years and older or people with chronic medical conditions and/or an immunocompromised state. Once these questions are answered, a provider will determine if they should be tested.

People who display fever and/or signs of lower respiratory illness such as cough or shortness of breath and meet any of the below criteria may be tested:

  • Any person, including healthcare workers, who has had close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient within 14 days of symptom onset
  • A history of travel from affected geographic areas within 14 days of symptom onset (currently China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, parts of Europe, and Japan)
  • The individual is from a congregate living or healthcare facility (staff and/or patient/resident) with clusters of infection not due to influenza and suspected to be due to COVID-19
  • The patient is at higher risk for complications from COVID-19 and for whom rapid test results are more likely to impact clinical care/outcomes (adults age 65 years and older, people with chronic medical conditions and/or an immunocompromised state that may put them at higher risk for poor outcomes
  • Other persons who have been evaluated by a medical professional and are deemed high priority, including hospitalized patients with unexplained pneumonia
COVID-19 Testing Criteria Chart

If individuals do not meet these criteria, they may be tested for seasonal flu or be asked to self-quarantine until their symptoms change. According to the Centers for Disease Control, anyone who has been ill (with the COVID-19 virus, the flu or any other sickness) should stay home until their temperature has stayed below 100.4°F (37.8°C) for at least 24 hours, without the help of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicine.

If people are enrolled in FHN's online information portal MyFHN, they can use the "message" capability to send a message directly to FHN providers about symptoms. He or she may ask patients to call their office and talk to a nurse.

Anyone, including people who are not FHN patients, can also use FHNow, FHN's telemedicine service, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Callers do not need to have an FHN provider, and can speak face-to-face with a healthcare provider via videoconference on phones, tablets, or laptop computers. It's fast and easy to sign up - visit FHNow for instructions and more information. (Costs apply: See www.fhn.org/fhn-now.asp for information.)

Illinois COVID-19 Hotline and Email Address
If you have questions about Coronavirus, call the Illinois Coronavirus (COVID-19) Hotline at 1-800-889-3931 or email DPH.SICK@ILLINOIS.GOV 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

For more local information, visit FHN.org/Coronavirus; for more information on COVID-19 nationally, visit Coronavirus.gov.