Hello, Gallaudet community:

This week, we would like to provide you with definitions of some of the types of COVID-19 testing that are used. We will explain three terms: baseline testing, diagnostic testing, and screening testing.


Baseline testing

Often set up at the beginning of something, such as the beginning of a stage (Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3) and the beginning of the spring semester. It lets us track changes that happen over time. The initial testing is set up to measure COVID-19 in a population who generally do not have known or suspected exposure to COVID-19. Baseline testing helps health care professionals (physicians, physician assistants, nurses, laboratory technicians, etc.) scientists, and schools to have a reference point to look at how an outbreak of the virus’s prevalence occurs over time. It allows us to keep track of changes that happen over time in the community and of future testing needs. Many workplaces and universities are doing baseline testing for the same reasons.


Diagnostic testing

Performed when there is a reason to suspect that an individual may be infected with COVID-19. For example, if you have COVID-19 symptoms or have reason to believe you were recently exposed to the virus, a health care professional will run a diagnostic test.


Screening testing

This is different from diagnostic testing. It is performed even if there is no reason to suspect that an individual has been infected with COVID-19. Screening tests help identify infected individuals who may be contagious even though they do not have symptoms or have yet to develop them. This allows health care professionals and the individual to take steps that can prevent further transmission. Screening testing also will be used to track the virus’s prevalence in the community over time.


We hope that this helps you understand the different types of COVID-19 testing. Look for more installments of “Know your terminology” in coming weeks.

If you need to be tested, please contact your health care provider, or check the appropriate link below for resources in your state (for District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia residents):