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 wearing a facemask and washing your hands frequently. 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 have had close contact with a Positive COVID-19 patient within 10 days, as defined by the CDC, then you should quarantine at home for 14 days from LAST CONTACT, to allow for an incubation period. More information about quarantine may be found on the CDC website.

    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 10 days from your first symptoms. Wear a mask until it has been greater than 14 days from when your first symptoms appeared. If you are a UTMB or contract employee or student, please refer to the Students & Employees 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 1/29/21

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

    Interpretation/Recommendations

    Your COVID 19 testing results were positive. At this time, the COVID 19 virus was detected in your sample. If this is the first time you tested positive for COVID 19, we recommend that you remain in self- quarantine along with those in your immediate household until you have been contacted by your county's health department who will work with you on when you may discontinue self- quarantine. In addition, your company's employee health department may have additional requirements for clearance to work. Please work with your county health department to address those requirements. Please follow the advice you received in your After-Visit Summary (AVS), the CDC document on what to do if you are sick with COVID and/or the CDC document on the COVID 19 test you received. Please stay inside and preferably in one room. Avoid close contact with your family and neighbors to prevent further spread. Wear a face mask if in the presence of someone else. Do not share household items such as dishes and toiletries. Be sure to clean your space thoroughly and wash your hands frequently. If you have symptoms, most people feel better within 7-14 days. If your symptoms are worsening and you feel very short of breath and you have difficulty performing basic tasks such as walking to the bathroom or preparing food, we would like you to contact the Access Center at (409) 772-2222 or toll free (800) 917-8906 to talk with a nurse or, if your symptoms are urgent, go to the nearest Emergency Room. Please wear a face mask and call prior to going to a healthcare facility. The local health department will be contacting you soon to follow up. If you are a UTMB or contract employee or student, please refer to Students & Employees website for more information.

    If this is not the first positive result you received, please be advised that it is unclear, at this time, how long the virus remains detectable in samples. It appears it could be weeks before a sample becomes negative. The date of your first positive test and your current symptoms will determine when you may discontinue quarantine. Please work with the county health department for instructions.

    For further guidance on when you can expect to discontinue quarantine and return to work, please visit the CDC website. UTMB recommends the symptom-based strategy for those who have symptoms and the time-based strategy for those who do not have symptoms. Repeat testing is not routinely recommended for any reason due to the prolonged detection of the virus in samples without evidence of transmission. General guidance includes release from quarantine 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 10 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 14 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.

    Those in your household should remain in quarantine for 14 days to allow time for incubation, or, if testing positive, should follow the above guidelines for discontinuing quarantine.

    Updated 1/29/21

  • 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 quarantine. Please work with the county health department for instructions.

    For further guidance on when you can expect to discontinue quarantine and return to work, please visit the CDC website. General guidance includes release from quarantine 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 10 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 14 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 1/29/21