When you should get tested for COVID-19 in the Cincinnati area

Posted at 10:34 PM, Mar 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-10 09:22:01-04

Editor’s note: With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to equip you with the information you need. We will try to keep things in context and focus on helping you make decisions. See a list of resources and frequently asked questions at the end of this story.

CINCINNATI Local health officials say you have a few options to get tested if you think you might have coronavirus.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced the state’s first three confirmed cases of coronavirus also called COVID-19 on Monday. There are no confirmed cases of coronavirus out of Cincinnati.

That doesn't mean there aren't people in our area with symptoms of the virus or who are concerned about the virus.

Dr. Grant Mussman of the Cincinnati Health Department said as far as confirming coronavirus cases and putting minds at ease, there has been some progress.

"At the end of last week, the State of Ohio Health Department does have a test kit that's available for testing cases of suspected coronavirus,” Mussman said.

Ohio has a limited number of kits and can test no more than 400 of the sickest people, including those hospitalized with acute respiratory illness.

For everyone else, Mussman suggests contacting your primary healthcare provider, who can order a coronavirus test through a private lab.

If you don’t have a primary care physician, going to urgent care or another clinic might not be your best option.

“I think, yes, you do want to get tested, but you also don’t want to show up in a waiting room and infect a lot of people,” he said.

There are state hotlines for Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana for folks who are concerned they might have coronavirus.

"I think a good place to start is the hotline and then if you sound like somebody who needs to be prioritized for a test, then the state will help coordinate with the local health department and local providers will find a way to get tested,” Mussman said.

Find more coronavirus/COVID-19 hotlines and resources below:


  • Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 833-4-ASK-ODH
  • See ODH’s COVID-19 resources here.


  • State COVID-19 hotline: 1-800-722-5725
  • See the Cabinet for Health and Family Services coronavirus resource site here.


  • SDH Epidemiology Resource Center: (317) 233-7125 or (317) 233-1325 after hours, or e-mail
  • See more information for coronavirus in Indiana here.

What is coronavirus, COVID-19?

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are "a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

A novel coronavirus, such as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 37 locations across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.

The CDC reports the initial patients in China have some link to a large seafood and live animal market, indicative of animal-to-person spread. A growing number of patients, however, did not report exposure to animal markets, indicating the disease is spreading person-to-person.

What are the symptoms? How does it spread?

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath.

The CDC said symptoms could appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. It is similar to the incubation period for MERS.

Spread of the virus is thought to be mainly from person-to-person. Spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

According to the CDC, it could be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, the CDC said.

The disease is most contagious when people are the sickest and showing the most symptoms.