Specimen collection

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Before beginning collection, please ensure all collectors are following proper personal protective equipment (PPE) protocols by wearing the following: 
  • A fit-tested N95 or higher-level respirator.
  • If an N95 or higher-level respirator is not available, use a facemask.
  • Eye protection that completely surrounds the eyes.
  • Disposable gloves.
  • Gown or other covering.
For any swab specimen collection, please practice the following protocols:
  • Wash your hands and wear the appropriate PPE.
  • Do not use any expired products.
  • Do not use products if the packaging is damaged or opened.
  • Use test kits immediately after opening.
  • In case of eye or skin contact with solution, wash thoroughly.  If symptoms are severe, seek medical attention.
  • Do not touch the nylon head of the swabs.
  • Consider all used samples and instruments as potentially infectious.
  • Do not reuse any test kit materials.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after use.
How to collect an anterior nares (nasal) specimen:
  1. Aseptically remove the sterile foam swab from the packaging.
  2. Tilt patient’s head back.
  3. Insert swab into either nostril and gently push the swab until a slight resistance is met.
    • This should be less than one inch into the nostril.
  4. Rotate swab up to five times and hold in place three - five seconds to collect sample.
  5. Place swab into viral transport medium and break off handle.
  6. Cap tightly and prepare for transport to lab for testing.

Figure: How to collect an anterior nares (nasal) specimen

Figure: How to collect an anterior nares (nasal) specimen
How to collect a nasopharyngeal specimen:
  1. Aseptically remove the sterile NP swab from the packaging.
  2. Tilt patient’s head back slightly to straighten nasal passage.
  3. Insert swab straight back horizontally to the nasopharynx until resistance is met.
  4. Rotate swab up to five times and hold in place five -10 seconds to collect sample.
  5. Place swab into viral transport medium and break off handle.
  6. Tightly close the sample tube lid to prevent leakage during transport.

 

Specimen collection FAQs

No specific licensure is required for collecting COVID-19 samples as long as the person performing the collection has received appropriate training.

As long as the swabbing process is followed and the individual conducting the swabbing is following proper infection control procedures, cross-contamination can be prevented. 

Questions? Email cdphe_labcoordinators@state.co.us.

No, a standard refrigerator can be used to store specimens. We recommend a dedicated refrigerator for specimens to avoid any confusion regarding your samples, and samples should not be stored in a refrigerator that is also being used for food and beverage storage.

No, supplies can be stored at room temperature prior to use.

Samples can be tested up to 72 hours after their collection. If for some reason your sample is not expected to reach the lab within 72 hours of collection, please reach out to a lab coordinator (cdphe_labcoordinators@state.co.us) to see what options there are regarding preserving the sample or retesting the individual.

No, samples should be kept at refrigerated temperatures (2 - 8 Celsius or 26 - 46 Fahrenheit). Freezing and thawing samples may result in the degradation of the viral material and can affect test results.

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If you have any questions, email cdphe_labcoordinators@state.co.us.