Not everyone who wants a COVID-19 test can get one. There’s certain criteria that must be met for those across Long Island seeking tests. Credit: Newsday / Raychel Brightman

Got questions about coronavirus testing on Long Island and throughout the state and country? We have answers:

How can I get tested for COVID-19?

The state has two drive-thru coronavirus testing sites on Long Island, at Jones Beach State Park and Stony Brook University. The state advises people with a health care provider to first contact that provider about testing.

The state sites are by appointment, by calling 888-364-3065. You will be asked questions about what symptoms you have. The information is sent to a database, and you are prioritized based on your answers to questions. If you are eligible for testing, you will be called with an appointment time.

AFC Urgent Care, which has centers in Farmingdale, East Meadow and West Islip, has been doing 15-minute testing. Patients are taken by appointment, but each center is only doing about 100 tests per day.

Other urgent care groups, including Northwell Health-GoHealth, also test, but not everyone who visits Northwell will get tested. The New Hyde Park-based health system recommends that patients call ahead, and make an appointment to be seen remotely or at an urgent care center. 

ProHEALTH, which runs a network of urgent care centers and primary care offices, offers drive-thru testing, but you must call their hotline to make an appointment before visiting one — and at some of their drive-thru centers, you must be a primary care patient of theirs to be considered.

Suffolk County has expanded testing with locations in Huntington, Brentwood and Riverhead. Testing at those sites is by appointment only. If you have a fever over 100.5, severe shortness of breath, and a persistent cough, please call 845 553-8030 for a screening or to make an appointment to be tested.  

Why are health care providers limiting who gets tested?

The main reason: Test kits are limited. So patients are prioritized. Those who are at higher risk, which includes underlying respiratory conditions, may have a better chance of being tested. The same goes for older people, who are generally more at risk if they get COVID-19. Also, patients who show symptoms such as a fever of 100.4 or higher, dry cough and shortness of breath, could be prioritized.

If a patient meets the standards, they'll definitely get tested, right?

Not always. In many cases, a doctor might tell a patient that even if COVID-19 is suspected, it's better to stay at home. For example, a patient who has multiple symptoms, but no underlying conditions, could be better off resting and not risking infecting others by going out. But in other cases, yes, a medical professional will approve a test.

Is it easier to get tested in other states?

Actually, New York has tested more than other states. As of Tuesday, the state has reported 138,836 confirmed cases, and more than 340,000 people have been tested. 

Why are the tests so hard to come by?

Testing, much like ventilators and personal protective equipment, depends on a supply chain that was not built to handle a pandemic. Clinical labs such as Northwell Health Labs have reached out globally to procure adequate testing kits and have even turned to making their own through 3-D printing technology. Northwell has printed its own nasal swabs capable of testing for COVID-19 at its Feinstein Institutes for Medical Technology.

Also, as testing has increased, so has the workload at the labs handling them, which could lead to delays in posting results.

With Joan Gralla and Olivia Winslow