ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- As the spread of COVID-19 continues, many people are wondering what to do if they suspect they may have been infected. Here are some helpful tips on what processes you can follow:

The first thing you need to know is that you're not supposed to go directly to an ER.

First, take your temperature to see if you have a fever.

If you have a fever, body aches, a cough and shortness of breath, pick up the phone and call your doctor.

If you don't have a primary care physician, call your local health department which can coordinate with a hospital or clinic.

Your physician will also coordinate your visit and have you take a secondary entrance to avoid the waiting room.

"When they go to receive medical care, they don't expose other individuals that may be in that same facility," said St. Louis City Health Department Director Dr. Fredrick Echols.

They'll give you a mask to wear while there, then ask questions to gauge your risk.

The most important two questions are have you traveled recently to a country where there are known coronavirus cases? And have you been in contact with anyone confirmed to have COVID-19?

If your answers meet the criteria to be approved for testing by the state health department, the staff will use a swab to take a sample from inside your nose and send it to the lab in Jefferson City.

"If an individual doesn't meet CDC guidelines for testing, they can still obtain testing,” Echols said. “That would be through a private company like LabCorp or Quest Diagnostics. But a physician’s order would be required for them to obtain that test."

It only takes six hours for a lab to process samples but ones sent to Jefferson City take a day and a half to two days to get results because of the travel time and the number of samples coming in from around the state.

Testing done by the state is at no cost, but testing done by a private lab will be up to the patient or their insurance company to pay for.

Copyright 2020 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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