A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

COVID-19: Why can’t I get tested?

Editor’s note: This article was published on April 3, 2020. COVID-19 information and recommendations are subject to change. For the most up-to-date information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website or view our most recent COVID-19 blog posts.

You feel sick and think you have a cough and a fever.

A woman coughs into a tissue.

If you’re sick, you may want to get tested so you can be confident your illness is not COVID-19. However, you may not be a candidate for testing, based off your symptoms and meeting required symptom criteria.

You want to get tested for the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) so you can be confident that your illness is not the virus.

But, you may not be a candidate for testing. You may be told “no” since you might not have all COVID-19 symptoms and meet required symptom criteria.


“Not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19,” said Kate Maguire, director of Infection Prevention & Control, Marshfield Clinic Health System, “and good reason lies behind this. Most important, it’s not up to the individual to ask for the test. A physician has to order the test so it’s a conversation between you and your provider.”

Testing for COVID-19 is currently limited around the U.S. but is increasing as more commercial tests and testing sites become available.

And, the Health System’s current guidelines also are guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Most people have mild illness, according to Maguire, and are able to recover at home.

Screening processes are in place to help you learn whether testing is needed for you. Through these processes, you can find out if you do not meet required symptom criteria to get the test.

Be aware of your health

Though you may not get tested, remain cautious and do everything you can to be healthy. Pay attention to your health and the health of those you are in contact with. This effort protects you, your family and community. Healthy steps include:

  • Staying at home – https://evers.wi.gov/Documents/COVID19/EMO12-SaferAtHome.pdf.
  • Washing your hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Regularly cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces people touch.
  • Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue.
  • Getting enough rest.
  • Eating as healthy as possible.

If you have questions about COVID-19 and don’t have symptoms, use trusted available resources like these to get answers:

Use technology to help

If you think you have symptoms, go to the Health System’s online screening tool, located on the Health System’s website homepage, to check out symptoms and learn more about next steps.

And, according to the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates and authorizes all medical tests, be aware of fraudulent tests, especially unauthorized tests for detecting the virus at home without any need for having a lab involved.

If you do develop symptoms that include a fever or temperature greater than 100 degrees, a new cough within the last day or two or shortness of breath not due to allergies or a chronic condition, and you’re concerned you may have been exposed to COVID-19, call the Health System’s Nurse Line at 1-844-342-6276 before going to an urgent care or hospital emergency department.


Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

World Health Organization

Marshfield Clinic Coronavirus Updates 

Related Posts:

Expectant moms during COVID-19: Prenatal care

Fitness during COVID-19: 6 ways to improve at-home workouts

COVID-19 and chronic disease: There’s a connection

3 ways to focus on your mental health during COVID-19

  1. Apr 17, 2020
    • Apr 17, 2020
      • Apr 19, 2020
      • Apr 20, 2020
  2. Apr 16, 2020
  3. Apr 10, 2020
  4. Apr 10, 2020
    • Apr 10, 2020
  5. Apr 9, 2020
  6. Apr 9, 2020
    • Apr 9, 2020
      • Apr 9, 2020

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

View our comment policy