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Asymptomatic vs. For-Cause COVID-19 Testing at the NIH

In recent weeks, as COVID-19 positivity rates rise across the nation, employee participation in the NIH asymptomatic testing program has also increased. Over 100 NIH employees have tested positive through asymptomatic testing for COVID-19 at six different sites in four states. The program is working.

Unfortunately, many of the over 100 who tested positive, later admitted to mild, non-specific symptoms they attributed to conditions other than COVID-19. The chance of exposing NIH staff (and patients at the Clinical Center) to COVID-19 increases in the presence of persons who are in the early, most infectious phases of their illness.

  • If you have any symptom - fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, stuffy/runny nose, body/muscle aches, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, loss of smell or taste - even if only mild, even if you believe it is attributed to allergies or some other illness, do not go through any asymptomatic testing program.
  • If you have been in close contact - within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or longer over 24 hours - with someone infectious with COVID-19, do not go through any asymptomatic testing program.

Instead, please seek testing through NIH by completing the Occupational Medical Service (OMS) Coronavirus Questionnaire at: If you receive testing in your community, report positive results to the NIH COVID-19 Call Center at 301-480-8990 or by filling out the OMS questionnaire.

Help us continue to keep you, your families, and your workplace safe, and run critical operations while we fight this pandemic by reducing known or unknown risks of exposure to patients and coworkers.

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