COVID-19 Testing FAQ


 

HOW DO I BOOK A COVID-19 TEST?

Simple! Just send us an inquiry through our Contact Us page on the website or give us a call at (310) 659-0705 and we will be happy to get you scheduled.

 

WHAT COVID-19 TESTING IS AVAILABLE AT TOWER LABORATORY SERVICES?

Tower Laboratory Services is excited to offer all classes of COVID-19 tests that are commercially available at this time. We proudly offer testing platform equipment that is new and state of the art.  Our laboratory staff is highly-trained and credentialed and our facility is fully accredited by CLIA and Medicare. 

  • ANTIBODY TESTING
    • WHAT ARE ANTIBODIES?
      • When our bodies encounter an unknown pathogen, our immune systems respond to this invader by producing antibodies, such IgG and IgM, which are detectable by our antibody test. 
        • IgM is usually the first antibody that our body produces once we have been exposed to or infected by COVID-19 or other pathogens.  If IgM is detected by our testing, this means either your body is currently fighting the COVID-19 virus or you have very recently recovered from the COVID-19 virus
        • IgG typically develops 7-10 days following the start of symptoms.  These antibodies remain present in our bodies after the infection has passed.  If IgG is detected by our testing, this means you may have had COVID-19 in the recent past.
      • It is important to note that some people do NOT develop IgG or IgM antibodies following exposure/infection with COVID-19, thus a negative antibody test does not necessarily mean you have not been infected by or had exposure to COVID-19.
    • WHAT ANTIBODY TESTING DOES TOWER LABORATORY SERVICES USE?
      • Tower Laboratory Services and our satellite offices utilize Healgen COVID-19 IgG/IgM (Whole Blood/Serum/Plasma) Rapid Test Devices which has Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) designated by the FDA.
      • HOW ACCURATE IS IT?
        • This test for the COVID-19 antibody IgG is 97.5% specific and 96.7% sensitive.  Sensitivity refers to the ability of a test to correctly determine those patients who have IgG antibodies.  This means ~98 out of 100 patients with the IgG antibodies to the virus are correctly identified to have those IgG antibodies, whereas ~2 of that 100 patients with IgG antibodies go undetected.  This means that even if you test negative for IgG antibodies with the IgG antibody test, you could still have IgG antibodies.  Specificity refers to the ability of a test to correctly determine those patients without IgG antibodies.  This means ~97 out of 100 patients without IgG antibodies are correctly identified to not have IgG antibodies, whereas  ~3 of that 100 patients without IgG antibodies will test positive for IgG antibodies, even though they do NOT have those antibodies.
        • This test for the COVID-19 antibody IgM is 100% specific and 100% sensitive.  Sensitivity refers to the ability of a test to correctly determine those patients who have IgM antibodies.  This means 100 out of 100 patients with the IgM antibodies to the virus are correctly identified to have those IgM antibodies.  Specificity refers to the ability of a test to correctly determine those patients without IgM antibodies.  This means 100 out of 100 patients without IgM antibodies are correctly identified to not have IgM antibodies.


    • WHO SHOULD GET THIS TEST?
      • You have previously tested positive for COVID-19 and want to see if you have developed IgG antibodies to the virus or if you are considering donating plasma to help treat others who have a severe case of COVID-19.  At this time, research is inconclusive, but ongoing, with regards to whether or not the development of IgG antibodies means you are immune to COVID-19 or if those antibodies will stay within your body long term.
      • You have a past history of COVID-19-like symptoms (i.e. fever, shortness of breath, cough, loss of taste/smell).  It is recommended to wait at least 14 days after symptom onset before obtaining the antibody test.  This allows time for your body to mount a measurable immune response to the virus, thus allowing the antibody test to detect the presence of IgG and IgM antibodies.
      • You are asymptomatic but may have had close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19.
      • You live in or have recently traveled to a place where transmission of COVID-19 is known to occur.
    • HOW IS THIS TEST DONE?
      • Upon arrival at the office, you will fill out some paperwork in our waiting room.  Once you complete the paperwork, one of our staff will bring you to an exam room where they will perform the test.  The antibody test requires just a quick finger poke and a small amount of blood in order to run the test.  Once the sample is collected, the test will be ran in our office and you are free to go!
    • HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET RESULTS?
      • Once we have collected your sample, the test will result within 10 minutes.  After that, one of our friendly staff will call you within 24 hours via phone with your results.
    • HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
      • Our offices charge $75 cash for the antibody testing, however, we will still attempt to bill your insurance for coverage should you provide it. If your insurance covers the test, we will issue you a refund of up to 100% of the cash rate according to your insurance policy benefits. Antigen testing is covered 100% by Medicare.

 

ANTIGEN TESTING

  • WHAT ARE ANTIGENS?
    • Antigens are molecular structures present on the surface of pathogens such as the COVID-19 virus.  Tests have been developed to recognize these specific antigens in order to detect current infection with the virus.
  • WHAT ANTIGEN TESTING DOES TOWER LABORATORY SERVICES USE?
    • Tower Laboratory Services utilizes the BD Veritor system which currently has Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) designated by the FDA.  at our main office location in Beverly Hills,
    • HOW ACCURATE IS IT?
      • This test is 100% specific and 84% sensitive.  Sensitivity refers to the ability of a test to correctly determine those patients who have the disease.  This means 84 out of 100 patients with the virus are correctly identified to have the virus, whereas 16 of that 100 patients with the virus go undetected.  This means that even if you test negative using the antigen test, you could still be infected with the virus.  Specificity refers to the ability of a test to correctly determine those patients without the disease.  This means 100 out of 100 patients without the virus are correctly identified to not have the virus.
  • WHO SHOULD GET THIS TEST?
    • You have active symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, shortness of breath, cough, loss of taste/smell, etc.
    • You have had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • HOW IS THIS TEST DONE?
    • Upon arrival at the office, you will fill out some paperwork in our waiting room.  Once you complete the paperwork, one of our staff will bring you to an exam room where the test will be performed.  One of our licensed personnel will review your history of symptoms and exposure.  A swab will be used to gently collect sample from the front part of both sides of your nose.  Once the sample is collected, the test will be ran in our lab and you are free to go!
  • HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET RESULTS?
    • Once we have collected your sample, the test will result within 15 minutes, depending upon module availability.  After that, one of our friendly staff will call you within 24 hours via phone with your results.
  • HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
    • Our offices charge $150 cash for the antigen testing, however, we will still attempt to bill your insurance for coverage should you provide it. If your insurance covers the test, we will issue you a refund of up to 100% of the cash rate according to your insurance policy benefits. Antigen testing is covered 100% by Medicare.

 

MOLECULAR TESTING

  • WHAT MOLECULAR TESTING DOES TOWER LABORATORY SERVICES USE?
    • Tower Laboratory Services offers one type of molecular testing: PCR.  Molecular testing differs from antibody or antigen testing in that this testing modality is used to detect the presence of the COVID-19 virus genetic material directly, rather than your body’s immune response or structures located on the surface of the virus.


PCR TESTING

  • WHAT IS PCR?
    • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a laboratory technique used to amplify microscopic segments of genetic material known as DNA and RNA to a point that it is more easily studied.  This means that we are able to collect a tiny amount of pathogen genetic material, amplify it to millions or billions of copies to better observe your current infection status, even if you only have a small amount of virus in your body.
  • WHAT PCR TESTING DOES TOWER LABORATORY SERVICES USE?
    • Tower Laboratory Services utilizes the BioFire System created by BioMérieux biotechnology company at our main office location in Beverly Hills.  The BioFire® Respiratory 2.1 (RP2.1) Panel with SARS-CoV-2 is a test with an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) designated by the FDA.  Not only does it detect COVID-19, it also detects 21 other respiratory pathogens.  It is a highly sensitive PCR test that can accurately determine if you have a current COVID-19 infection.
      • The BioFire Rapid PCR Test is 99.3% specific and 97.1% sensitive.  Sensitivity refers to the ability of a test to correctly determine those patients who have an active infection.  This means ~97 out of 100 patients with the virus are correctly identified to have an active infection, whereas 3 of that 100 patients with an active infection go undetected.  This means that even if you test negative using the PCR test, you could still be infected with the virus.  Specificity refers to the ability of a test to correctly determine those patients without active disease.  This means ~99 out of 100 patients without the virus are correctly identified to not have an active infection, whereas ~1 out of that 100 patients will test positive for active infection, even though they do NOT have an active infection.
    • Tower Laboratory Services also offers Cue Health Point-of-Care Rapid PCR testing at our main office location in Beverly Hills, in addition to satellite locations in Encino, Culver City, Santa Monica, Pasadena, and West Hollywood.  This testing modality has Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) designated by the FDA and only detects the presence of SARS-CoV-2.
      • The Cue Health Rapid PCR Test is 98.7% sensitive and 97.6% specific.  Sensitivity refers to the ability of a test to correctly determine those patients who have an active infection.  This means ~99 out of 100 patients with the virus are correctly identified to have an active infection, whereas 1 of that 100 patients with an active infection go undetected.  This means that even if you test negative using the PCR test, you could still be infected with the virus.  Specificity refers to the ability of a test to correctly determine those patients without active disease.  This means ~98 out of 100 patients without the virus are correctly identified to not have an active infection, whereas ~2 out of that 100 patients will test positive for active infection, even though they do NOT have an active infection.
  • WHO SHOULD GET THIS TEST?
    • Your airline requires a negative PCR test before you may fly or a country which you are traveling to requires a negative PCR test before you may enter the country.
    • You workplace requires a negative PCR test before you may return to work.
    • You have active symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, shortness of breath, cough, loss of taste/smell, etc.
    • You have had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
    • You are asymptomatic but you work in a high risk environment such as a skilled nursing facility, hospital, etc.
  • HOW IS THIS TEST DONE?
    • BIOFIRE RAPID PCR TESTING
      • Upon arrival at the office, you will fill out some paperwork in our waiting room.  Once you complete the paperwork, one of our staff will bring you to an exam room where the test will be performed.  One of our licensed personnel will review your history of symptoms and exposure.  A swab will be used to gently collect sample from your nasopharynx.  Once the sample is collected, the test will be ran in our lab and you are free to go!  Please note that this sample collection should NOT be painful, however, it is likely to be uncomfortable.  You may experience a slight burning sensation, tickle in your throat, tearing of the eyes, or feel the need to cough.  This is normal. 
    • CUE HEALTH RAPID PCR TESTING
      • Upon arrival at the office, you will fill out some paperwork in our waiting room. Once you complete the paperwork, one of our staff will bring you to an exam room where the test will be performed.  One of our licensed personnel will review your history of symptoms and exposure.  A swab will be used to gently collect sample from the front part of both sides of your nose.  Once the sample is collected, the test will be ran onsite and you are free to go!
  • HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET RESULTS?
    • BIOFIRE RAPID PCR TESTING
      • Once we have collected your sample, the test will result within 1 hour, depending on staff and PCR module availability.  Once the test is complete, one of our friendly staff will call you within 24 hours via phone with your results.  Should require official documentation for travel, your results can be faxed or emailed to you.
    • CUE HEALTH RAPID PCR TESTING
      • Once we have collected your sample, the test will result within 30 minutes, depending on module availability.  Once the test is complete, one of our friendly staff will call you within 24 hours via phone with your results.
  • HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
    • Our offices charge $300 cash for the BioFire PCR testing for results within 12-24 hours.  We will still attempt to bill your insurance for coverage should you provide it. If your insurance covers the test, we will issue you a refund of up to 100% of the cash rate according to your insurance policy benefits. PCR testing is covered 100% by Medicare for your first test.
      • Our office will charge $500 cash for priority BioFire PCR testing should you require results within 1-2 hours on the same day.
    • Our offices charge $200 cash for the Cue Health PCR testing, however, we will still attempt to bill your insurance for coverage should you provide it. If your insurance covers the test, we will issue you a refund of up to 100% of the cash rate according to your insurance policy benefits. PCR testing is covered 100% by Medicare for your first test.


INSURANCE COVERAGE OF COVID-19 TESTING

  • ANTIBODY TESTING
    • Our offices charge $75 cash for the antibody testing, however, we will still attempt to bill your insurance for coverage should you provide it. If your insurance covers the test, we will issue you a refund of up to 100% of the cash rate according to your insurance policy benefits. Antibody testing is covered 100% by Medicare.
  • ANTIGEN TESTING
    • Our offices charge $150 cash for the antigen testing, however, we will still attempt to bill your insurance for coverage should you provide it. If your insurance covers the test, we will issue you a refund of up to 100% of the cash rate according to your insurance policy benefits. Antigen testing is covered 100% by Medicare.
  • PCR TESTING
    • Our offices charge $300 cash for the BioFire PCR testing for results within 12-24 hours.  We will still attempt to bill your insurance for coverage should you provide it. If your insurance covers the test, we will issue you a refund of up to 100% of the cash rate according to your insurance policy benefits. PCR testing is covered 100% by Medicare for your first test.
      • Our office will charge $500 cash for priority BioFire PCR testing should you require results within 1-2 hours on the same day.
    • Our offices charge $200 cash for the Cue Health PCR testing, however, we will still attempt to bill your insurance for coverage should you provide it. If your insurance covers the test, we will issue you a refund of up to 100% of the cash rate according to your insurance policy benefits. PCR testing is covered 100% by Medicare for your first test.


CAN YOU DO TESTING IN MY HOME/OFFICE?

We can accommodate home or office visits for an additional flat fee of $300.  This fee enables our lab to send a licensed provider to a location within a 7 mile radius of our laboratory location. Corporate and large scale testing is possible. For inquiries on corporate testing, please contact sarah@aronowitzmd.com.

 

ABOUT TOWER LABORATORY SERVICES

Tower Laboratory Services is a moderate-complexity CLIA certified laboratory.  Our laboratory staff is highly-trained and credentialed, and our facility is fully accredited by CLIA and Medicare.  Our goal is to provide superior quality and cost effective laboratory testing services to all those who seek it, particularly during this time of uncertainty.


Written by Kaitlin Sutten, PA-C

Last Updated: 10/26/2020


WEBSITES TO TESTING MODALITIES

ANTIBODY TESTING: https://www.healgen.com/if-respiratory-covid-19

ANTIGEN TESTING: https://www.fda.gov/media/139755/download

CUE HEALTH PCR: https://www.cuehealth.com/what-is-cue/how-cue-detects-covid-19/

BIOFIRE PCR: https://docs.biofiredx.com/wp-content/uploads/BFR0000-9066-RP2.1-EUA-Patient-Fact-Sheet-1.pdf

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