Health Services

COVID-19 Testing Education

As COVID-19 testing guidelines and capacities change, it is the permanent focus of the Cherokee Nation Health Services team to provide the best possible care to our patients. In an effort to educate our communities, we have provided the following information to answer our most frequently asked questions.

If you are sick and decide not to be screened for COVID-19, please stay home until you are well. Continue social distancing, wearing a mask in public, washing your hands often and disinfecting your home frequently.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do testing guidelines come from?

The Cherokee Nation uses testing guidelines as recommended by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

How many COVID-19 tests does the Cherokee Nation have?

The number of tests and supplies change often. Based on allocations from IHS and FEMA. Cherokee Nation is constantly working on various supply chain opportunities for these test kit items.

What kind of tests are available?

There are two types of tests that Cherokee Nation Health Services can administer. Reference Lab Tests which take 24+ hours to see results and Rapid Tests that yield results in as little as 22 minutes. Rapid tests are used on our most critically ill patients because of the limited supply of testing materials.

What is the difference between screening and testing?

Screening includes a series of questions asked to determine a person’s risk for COVID-19. This includes questions regarding associated symptoms or exposure to someone who has been confirmed to have COVID-19. Screening is conducted at the entrance of all Cherokee Nation Health facilities and via drive-thru operations at each Health Center. After an individual has been screened, a health professional will follow CDC guidelines to determine whether the individual requires testing.

Testing refers to using a swab to collect a sample from your nose or throat to see if the COVID-19 virus is present.

Where can I get tested?

Individuals may be tested if they present to a Cherokee Nation health facility and requires testing after being screened by a health professional. Cherokee Nation Health Services also offers drive-thru testing at all Health Centers. The hours of operation are Monday-Friday 8 am - 12 pm (noon). Drive-thru screening is weather permitting and testing capacity requirements will apply. Not all individuals who are screened will require testing.

When can I expect my results?

Currently, individuals can expect to be contacted by their health provider with test results in 2-4 days. This timeline may vary based on test volumes at participating labs.

Does the Cherokee Nation test for antibodies?

The role of antibody testing for COVID infection is still unclear and the accuracy of the antibody tests approved by the FDA is highly variable. For this reason antibody testing is not being performed at this time by Cherokee Nation Health Services. The key factor in this decision is the lack of evidence supporting immunity from a positive antibody test. People who test positive for antibodies likely were previously infected with the COVID but we don’t know if the presence of antibodies protects people from reinfection. As we learn more about COVID antibodies and if testing for them becomes more accurate we may offer this test in the future.