COVID-19 Sample Collection and Labeling

Sample Collection

For initial diagnostic testing for COVID-19, CDC recommends collecting and testing an upper respiratory sample. Nasopharyngeal (NP) is the preferred choice for swab-based SARS-CoV-2 testing.

  • Samples need to be placed into approved VTM, saline, or modified Aimes media with a minimum of 1 ml of volume.
    • Use only synthetic fiber swabs with plastic or metal shafts. 
    • DO NOT use calcium alginate swabs or swabs with wooden shafts as they may contain substances that inactivate some viruses and inhibit testing.
    • DO NOT send additional samples types (serum, urine, blood, etc.) to the laboratory.
  • Refrigerate all samples at 2-8o C immediately after collection and ship to the laboratory on ice packs.
  • If samples will not arrive to the laboratory within 72 hours of collection, they must be stored frozen at -70C and shipped on dry ice.

Sample Labeling

All samples must be labeled with specific identifiers (patient's first and last name, date of birth, medical record number, and the date/time the sample was taken). The identifiers must appear on both the primary sample container and the requisition form

Ensure the patient's name and date of birth on the requisition form exactly match what is written on the specimen tube.

For sample collecting and/or labeling questions, contact our laboratory office phone at 906-487-1573 or email us at