Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information | Screening and Testing

Screening and Testing for Coronavirus

Is Screening the Same Thing as Testing for Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

No, screening and testing are different.

Screening is a series of questions about recent travel, contact with people who have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), and symptoms of illness you may have. Screenings help doctors determine if a patient should have further testing if they are sick. Screenings are also happening in person at hospitals and other healthcare areas to identify people who could be sick.

Testing is a laboratory test to find out if a person has coronavirus (COVID-19). If a coronavirus test is needed, a long stick will be used to swab the inside of the patient’s sinus area. The sample will then be sent to a lab, and a result will come back in a few days.

Is Cincinnati Children’s Screening for Coronavirus (COVID-19) Symptoms?

Yes, in an effort to protect our patients, their families and our staff during the coronavirus pandemic, Cincinnati Children’s is screening parents, visitors and employees every day. You may be offered a mask to wear while you are at the medical center.

Patient, Family and Visitor Screening: 

Most patient, parent and visitor screening takes place at registration and welcome centers. When you arrive at a Cincinnati Children’s location, please wear a personal mask from your car to the mask and sanitizer stations that are close to each entrance. There, take a fresh mask and put it on in place of your personal mask. Then, sanitize your hands and proceed to the welcome desk or registration area where an employee will ask you the screening questions listed below, or you will respond to the questions on a screen if you use a kiosk to register.

In the past 24 hours, have you or anyone with you had any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever (temperature above 100.4° F)
  • Cough
  • Chills
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of your ability to smell or taste

If a parent or caregiver does not pass the screening and there is another caregiver with the patient, the flagged parent will not be allowed to come into patient care areas and will be asked to return to their vehicle.

If a single parent is with a child for a medically necessary visit (Emergency Department, Cancer and Blood Diseases Institute day hospital, dialysis) and does not pass the screening, they will be allowed to go ahead to the appointment. Inpatient families are screened daily on their child’s unit. Ask your child’s nurse if you have questions about how it is handled on the unit.

Employee Screening:

All employees complete a daily screening before their scheduled shift. Many employees complete the screening online before their arrival. Others screen at clock-in stations when they arrive. Employees answer the same set of questions as our patients and families. If an employee has symptoms or answers yes to the exposure questions, they do not report to work.

Note that these employee screening practices are not visible to families but are highly effective. Be assured that employees you encounter have been screened each day.

Testing for coronavirus.

When Should My Child Be Tested for Coronavirus?

If your child has symptoms of coronavirus, reach out to their pediatrician or primary care provider first. That provider will determine if the patient should be tested.

If your child is having difficulty breathing or you think she or he needs emergency care, do not wait to talk to your pediatrician, go straight to the ED for care. Patients who need to stay in the hospital will be tested at Cincinnati Children’s.

If your child does not have symptoms, it is important to remember that a test is only a snapshot and does not mean that the patient is “clear” if they have had an exposure. A negative test does not mean it is safe to spend time with other people and it does not mean that you can cut a quarantine short.

How Can My Child Be Tested if We Do Not Have a Primary Care Provider to Call?

If your child does not have a regular doctor or you need to talk to someone when your doctor isn’t available, you can use the CincyKids Health Connect app to talk to a Cincinnati Children’s provider about next steps. Providers will evaluate each patient using video visit technology. They will screen for travel or contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 and direct families to options for further evaluation.

If a patient meets COVID-19 testing criteria, the provider can order a COVID-19 test for a scheduled appointment at a Cincinnati Children’s testing location. Note, this testing is available only through a provider’s order and a scheduled appointment.

Patients who have minor symptoms and do not meet testing criteria at the time of the visit will receive guidance from the provider for monitoring at home and instructions for follow-up, if needed. At-home COVID-19 test kits are also available in the community – including at Cincinnati Children’s Urgent Care locations.

COVID-19 screening video visits are free of charge for families. If a patient has a COVID-19 test, the testing itself will be billed to the patient’s insurance as applicable.

Learn how to get started and see testing locations.