​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. Learn more about the course of this pandemic.

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.

Supporting Our Member Laboratories

APHL is supporting our member laboratories during the COVID-19 pandemic by assisting with quality testing, reporting, technical assistance and communications.

APHL members only: sign in to access the COVID-19 Laboratory and Testing Resources page, which includes APHL Lab Alerts, informatics messaging guidance and FAQs on federal requirements.

It's also important to remember that other testing needs, such as newborn screening, do not stop during a pandemic. Learn more about common COVID-19-related practices, challenges, resources and strategies in the newborn screening community on the Newborn Screening COVID-19 Practices and Resources page.  

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 Public Health Laboratories

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

Non-Priority:

  • Individuals without symptoms


 

Page Last Reviewed: April 1, 2020​​​​​​​