​If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please consult your healthcare provider.

The Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, has become an international public health concern and requires a large public health response, including widespread and timely diagnostic testing​

APHL Responds to COVID-19

APHL works to strengthen laboratory systems by representing US state, local and territorial governmental health laboratories—known as public health laboratories—which monitor, detect and respond to health threats. APHL is supporting our member laboratories during the COVID-19 pandemic by assisting with quality testing, reporting, technical assistance and communications. Learn more about APHL's COVID-19 response activities.

Visit the COVID-19 Laboratory and Testing Resources page for more testing-related resources and guidance, such as informatics​ messaging, various protocols and FAQs, and information on federal requirements.​

Improving Pandemic Testing Strategy​

On January 15, 2021 APHL issued a white paper, Smart Testing for Optimizing Pandemic Response, identifing shortcomings in the US response to COVID-19 and outlining four actions to improve the testing situ​ation, for both the SARS-CoV-2 virus and for future pandemics. 

Learn More About Testing St​rategy Recommendations

Supporting Informatics and Laboratory Data Reporting

APHL is collaborating with partners to support the reporting of laboratory testing data. Using our AIMS platform, we've developed vocabulary and coding for laboratories to easily generate messages and share data about the virus, and transmit COVID-19 test results to CDC.

Learn More About APHL's COVID-19 Informatics Activities

Understanding Laboratory Testing Capacity and Capabilities

Beginning April 13, 2020, APHL has conducted a weekly survey of up to 100 state, local and territorial public health laboratories to understand their current and projected capability and capacity to test for SARS-CoV-2. Data from this survey is used to inform HHS, FEMA, CDC and other federal partners to support public health laboratory supply and reagent needs. 

View the Survey's Data Dashboard

External Communication and Advocacy Efforts

APHL is working closely with federal and other public health partners to help coordinate the national response, and regularly communicating with policy makers, the public and the media about the importance of testing and the role of public health laboratories during the COVID-19 response.

Learn More About APHL's COVID-19 Response Activities

The Role of Public Health Laboratories and Testing in the COVID-19 Response

Public health laboratories have played a​ vital role in the COVID-19 testing response​. Public health laboratories were the only laboratories authorized to conduct testing outside of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention until March 13, 2020.

Despite early challenges​ to testing, at least one public health laboratory in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam is now capable of testing for COVID-19; this includes all state-​level and many local and territorial public health laboratories. These numbers continue to grow as more laboratories complete their testing verification procedures.

Learn More About COVID-19 Testing​

The Importance of COVID-19 Testing Prioritization

While the number of both private and public health laboratories capable of testing is expanding, the country is still facing testing challenges including shortages of materials required for testing (such as laboratory supplies, testing reagents and personal protective equipment). As such, testing needs to be limited to priority groups until sufficient testing supplies become more widely available.​

APHL Testing Recommendations

APHL recommends that testing​ be prioritized for the following groups:

  1. Healthcare workers and first responders with COVID-19 symptoms.

  2. Individuals age 60 and older who have symptoms of COVID-19, especially those living in congregate settings.

  3. Individuals who may have other illnesses that would be treated differently if they were infected with COVID-19 and therefore physician judgement is especially important for this population.

Federal Testing Recommendations

The US Public Health Service offers the following priorities for testing patients with suspected COVID-19 infection​

Priority 1: 

  • Hospitalized Patients
  • Healthcare facility workers with symptoms

Priority 2: 

  • Patients in long-term care facilities with symptoms
  • Patients 65 years of age and older with symptoms
  • Patients with underlying conditions with symptoms
  • First responders with symptoms

Priority 3: 

  • Critical infrastructure workers with symptoms 
  • Individuals who do not meet any of the above categories with symptoms
  • Healthcare facility workers and first responders 
  • Individuals with mild symptoms in communities experiencing high numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations


  • Individuals without symptoms

Page Last Reviewed: June 4, 2020​​​​​​​​​

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