COVID-19 Test Results

Explanation of the most common COVID-19 test results

If you've entrusted UTMB Health with your COVID-19 test, we thank you for allowing us to serve you. We realize that you may have questions about your results, as COVID-19 is something that patients and caregivers alike are experiencing for the first time. To help, below we have listed the most commonly encountered COVID-19 test results, with their interpretation:

Test Results

  • Negative Antibody screen results (.negativeantibodycovid)

    Interpretation/Recommendations

    Your antibody test result was negative. Antibodies against the virus are a marker of a previous infection. A negative result means you do not have antibodies from an infection with the virus that causes COVID 19, but this does not rule out a currently active infection. It typically takes between 1 to 3 weeks after infection to develop antibodies. You could still get sick if you have been exposed to the virus recently. Take precautions such as wearing a mask and washing your hands frequently. If you currently have symptoms, please speak with your primary care provider or call the access center at (409) 772-2222 or toll free (800) 917-8906, as you will likely need an additional test called a viral test which uses respiratory samples from inside your nose to detect the active virus. Please note: There are currently no approved treatment recommendations for any patients that are not presenting with symptoms. Therefore, it is not recommended that you be seen by a provider unless you are displaying symptoms.

    Updated 1/29/21

  • Positive antibody screen results (.positiveantibodycovid)

    Interpretation/Recommendations

    Your antibody test result was positive. Antibodies against the virus are a marker of a previous infection. A positive result means you have antibodies from an infection with the virus that causes COVID 19 or a similar virus from the same family of virus’ called coronavirus. It is not known if having antibodies will protect you from getting infected again or how long these antibodies will provide protection against an infection. You should continue to protect yourself by wearing a mask and washing your hands frequently. If you do not have symptoms, you likely do NOT have an active infection and no further follow up is required. If you currently have symptoms, please speak with your primary care provider or call the access center at (409) 772-2222 or toll free (800) 917-8906, as you will likely need an additional test called a viral test which uses respiratory samples from inside your nose to detect the active virus. Please note: There are currently no approved treatment recommendations for any patients that are not presenting with symptoms. Therefore, it is not recommended that you be seen by a provider unless you are displaying symptoms.

    Updated 1/29/21

  • Negative molecular/nucleic acid/PCR results (.covidnegative)

    Interpretation/Recommendations

    Your COVID 19 testing results were negative. At this time, the COVID 19 virus was NOT found in your sample. Continue to protect yourself by washing your hands frequently.

    The most up to date CDC guidance about quarantine/ isolation may be found on the CDC website.

    If you have not had symptoms, you may return to work immediately UNLESS* someone in your household or close contacts has recently tested positive. If you are not fully vaccinated including your booster and have had close contact with a Positive COVID-19 patient within 5 days, as defined by the CDC, then you should quarantine at home for 5 days from LAST CONTACT, to allow for an incubation period. If you are fully vaccinated, you do not need to quarantine but should wear a mask for 10 days and get tested in 5 days.

    If you had symptoms, you may return to work or school when you are feeling better and have not had a fever for 24 hours or more without taking fever reducing medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen and are 5 days from your first symptoms. Wear a mask until it has been greater than 10 days from when your first symptoms appeared. If you are a UTMB or contract employee or student, please refer to the student and employee COVID website for more information.

    If you feel you are not getting better, please call the Access Center at (409) 772-2222 or toll free (800) 917-8906 to schedule a telehealth visit or face to face visit with a provider. Most acute illnesses resolve within 7 days.

    Updated 1/3/22

  • Positive molecular/nucleic acid/PCR results (.covidpositive)

    Interpretation/Recommendations

    General guidance includes release from isolation when the following conditions are met:

    • At least 24 hours have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
    • Improvement in symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and,
    • At least 5 days have passed since symptoms first appeared or the first positive test if symptoms have not developed or worsened since testing, at which point, use date symptoms began.
    • Continue to wear a face mask until 10 days have passed since your first test or first symptoms appeared.
    • If you experience a worsening of symptoms or recover and then re develop symptoms, please speak with a provider for further evaluation.

    Updated 1/3/22

  • Repeat Positive ( .2covidpositive)

    Interpretation/Recommendations

    Your COVID 19 sample remains positive. Please be advised that it is unclear, at this time, how long the virus remains detectable in samples. It appears it could be up to 12 weeks before a sample becomes negative. Repeat testing is no longer routinely recommended for any reason due to the prolonged detection of the virus in samples without evidence of transmission. The date of your first positive test and your current symptoms will determine when you may discontinue isolation.

    For further guidance on when you can expect to discontinue isolation and return to work, please visit the CDC website.

    General guidance includes release from isolation when the following conditions are met:

    • At least 24 hours have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
    • Improvement in symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and,
    • At least 5 days have passed since symptoms first appeared or the first positive test if symptoms have not developed or worsened since testing, at which point, use date symptoms began.
    • Continue to wear a face mask until 10 days have passed since your first test or first symptoms appeared.
    • If you experience a worsening of symptoms or recover and then re develop symptoms, please speak with a provider for further evaluation.

    Updated 1/3/22