SARS-CoV-2, commonly referred to by the disease it causes; Coronvirus Disease (COVID-19). Most persons infected will experience a mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover. However, it can also cause severe respiratory illness requiring medical intervention or cause death. APHL works domestically and internationally to develop or clarify SARS-CoV-2 testing guidance, implement training and provide necessary support for laboratories to perform safe, high quality and effective testing to meet the diagnostic and surveillance needs of their jurisdiction.
In the US, public health laboratories have played a vital role in the COVID-19 response by performing testing for SARS-CoV-2. They were the only laboratories authorized to conduct testing outside of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at the outset of the pandemic. Currently, at least one public health laboratory in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam are capable of testing for SARS-CoV-2; this includes all state-level and many local and territorial public health laboratories.
APHL Response Efforts
APHL operated our Incident Command System (ICS) from January 2020 through May 2023 when the public health emergency ended. Learn more about this historic response including archived guidance documents, testing capability and more.
Public health laboratories continue to perform diagnostic and surveillance testing for SARS-CoV-2 as part of their larger respiratory diseases testing portfolio. Information about current testing efforts are addressed on our Laboratory and Testing Resources Website or to learn more about sequencing by visiting the National SARS-CoV-2 Strain Surveillance (NS3) website.
Testing wastewater for SARS-CoV-2 is a tool that public health officials can use to better understand community COVID-19 infection trends. Because SARS-CoV-2 can be shed in the feces of infected symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals, wastewater can be tested for SARS-CoV-2 RNA to provide early estimates of increasing and decreasing infection trends of the people living or working in a wastewater collection area, or "sewershed. Learn more about wastewater surveillance efforts at APHL.