COVID-19 Test Results: How Long Do They Take And Why?

So the scary thing that you’ve been trying to avoid for two years in Florida has finally happened to you: you suspect that you’re positive for COVID-19. Or you’ve had close contact with someone who told you they suspect they have it or have confirmed that they’re infected. 

First of all, don’t panic. It can happen to anyone, no matter how careful they are. The important thing right now is for you to find out if you are indeed positive for the virus, or if you’re not. So your next step is to Google “Orlando COVID test” if you don’t know where the nearest testing site in your area is. When you find out, get a test immediately the first chance you get.

But since you haven’t been stepped foot in any COVID test site before, you might have a lot of questions, like what kind of test you should take, how long before you get the results, and so on. 

Well, don’t worry. Keep on reading and we’ll try to answer your many burning questions in this article.


How long before I get the results of my COVID-19 test?

Just so you know, there are different kinds of COVID tests. That means that the amount of time you’ll get your results will depend on what type of test you get. But for this article, we will focus on the two types that can tell if you currently have COVID. These are the antigen tests and molecular tests.


Molecular PCR tests

These tests are also known as nucleic acid amplification (NAATs) and the more well-known term polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. They can show detect the DNA of the COVID-19 virus in you to check if you’re currently a carrier. 

This test is considered the gold standard of COVID-19 testing. When this test is administered to you within five days of the appearance of your symptoms, it can correctly show that you are positive most of the time. However, if you take the test too late (around 9 to 11 days after the appearance of your symptoms), the accuracy drops sharply.

What happens during this test is that the doctor will swab your throat and your nose. The sample is then sent to a lab to be processed. If you get tested at a facility with a lab, you might get your results in a few hours. 



However, there are some facilities that need to send the sample away to labs. And there are also some facilities that have a lot of pending tests. In that case, you might have to wait for 24 hours… or even a week for you to get your result. So if you are in a rush, either get the other kind of test or find a facility that guarantees results immediately.

Rapid antigen tests

Antigen tests are for detecting certain proteins on the surface of COVID-19. They’re called rapid for a reason because you can get results in as little as fifteen minutes. However, they’re not as accurate and come with an increased risk of a false-negative, meaning you are infected but the test will not show it.

We can suggest you Google “rapid test near me” only if you know you have been exposed to someone who is COVID positive but you are not experiencing any symptoms. 


What are other factors that can affect the time of your test results?

To recap, a PCR test ideally takes a few hours to get results. A rapid test will only be as little as 15 minutes to get results. Not a bad wait, right?

However, there are also other factors that can affect the time of your results, especially for the PCR test. 


The facility has too many backlogs.

We’ve mentioned this above. At the start of 2020 and even at the start of 2022, the numbers of COVID-19 infections were up. And because of that, more testing was required. Sadly, that also means that facilities are testing more instead of working on the results. And again as mentioned above, some facilities do not have labs. They send out samples to other labs. This leads to the next factor, which is…


The labs are too far or samples are affected by the travel process.

Now, we don’t mean that the samples are compromised during travel. Rest assured that they are in safe and sealed containers. However, if facilities are far away, transportation may take a long time. Add weather conditions, traffic, and many more, and you’ve got plenty of reasons why it takes a while for a sample to be tested.


The lab has a shortage of people.

Remember the backlogs? Well, another reason for that, aside from the many people getting tested, is that labs may have a shortage of people who can do that procedure. Remember, there was a time that only a certain number of people are allowed to go to work so there is less exposure in general. And it’s not like you can just get anyone to analyze results. The people you put in that position have to be trained in the procedures, which isn’t exactly simple nor easy.


The lab has a very thorough process.

One more reason why results may take a while is because of the process of analyzing the sample itself. The analysis involves plenty of chemicals and machines. And even when a result comes out, the result has to be vetted, especially if the result is inconclusive. And we’re sure we’d all appreciate labs being through to ensure the accuracy of all test results.

Of course, generally, whatever the result comes out, it is accepted as such and reported to the patient. The only time there will be a retesting is if the first result is hard to interpret. 


What do I do while waiting for my test results?

If you’re getting a test because you’re feeling symptoms or you know that you have been exposed to the virus or to someone who has it, the best thing to do is assume you have it. After that, isolate yourself. While waiting for the results, better call other people who have been exposed to you. That way, they will also take steps to ensure that they and the people around them are protected, just in case.

However, you may not need to isolate under the following conditions:


  • You’re getting tested solely for a travel requirement or because your work requires it
  • You’re sure you haven’t come into contact with anyone who is infected with COVID-19
  • You don’t have any symptoms of COVID whatsoever


Get a COVID test in Orlando with us at Advent Health.

Now you know what to expect in different COVID tests and how long the results will take. Will you now be Googling the phrase “COVID test near me?”  to look for a facility?


Well, you can do that… or you can contact us here at AdventHealth. In Florida, we have plenty of locations for tests, so you can rest assured that we have little to no backlogs when it comes to testing results.


Visit one of our locations today and get tested!