Saliva COVID-19 Test FAQs

How will my saliva sample be obtained?
You will be asked to open a sample collection tube and spit into it. Our medical team will close the tube and submit the sample for analysis at the MSHS laboratory.

Are there limitations on who can be tested?
This test is only for individuals who do not exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 and who have not been exposed to people who have tested positive for the virus.

Is there anything I need to do prior to the test?
Rinse mouth thoroughly with water to remove any food particles or other contaminants, and then wait an hour before collecting the saliva sample. 

For a successful test, your saliva must be clear, free of food and mucus, and cannot contain residues such as those from brushing your teeth or smoking. In the hour before your test, please do not:

  • Eat or drink anything, including water
  • Brush or floss your teeth, or use mouthwash
  • Smoke or chew gum

What happens if I have trouble making enough saliva for testing purposes?
For the test, we only need 2 ml of saliva, which is not difficult for most people to produce. Here are some tips to make sure you can:

  • Hydrate earlier in the day by drinking plenty of water up until one hour before your test.
  • Think about the foods you like most to eat or think about sour foods.
  • Make chewing motions with your teeth.
  • Slide the tip of your tongue along your gums behind your teeth to stimulate your salivary glands.
  • Gently rubbing the outside of your cheeks.
  • Making chewing motions with your mouth.

If you have trouble producing enough saliva, we will perform a nasal PCR test.

How long does the test collection take?
The test collection only takes a few minutes. If you have trouble producing enough saliva, or we need to conduct a nasal swab test for any other reason, it may take longer. We are also scheduling appointments with enough time between patients in order to reduce your wait time.

How can I ensure my health data will remain safe?
Please know that testing is kept confidential. The Mount Sinai team will notify you if you have a positive result and will help support you with next steps.

What is a PCR test?
A PCR test, or polymerase chain reaction test, works by detecting genetic material from a specific organism, such as a virus. The test identifies the presence of a virus if you are infected at the time of the test.

Is the saliva-based PCR test as effective as nasal-swab testing?
Saliva-based PCR is just as effective as a nasal-swab PCR test. However, collection of the sample is easier for most people than a nasal-swab.

Is there a chance of a false positive reading?
False positives are possible, but rare. 

Are there any safety concerns I should be aware of with this method of testing?
The saliva test is quick, easy, and safe, and does not require a nasal swab.

Will Mount Sinai treat me if I test positive?
No. Mount Sinai will be administrating and processing the tests, but those who test positive should consult their primary health care provider ASAP to take the proper treatment and precautions.

Do I need to have the Excelsior Pass app to get my results?
No. You may get your results through MyChart, and if you test positive we will call you. If you are getting the test in order to attend an event, your results will be transmitted to your Excelsior Pass app within 48 hours, guaranteed.

Where do I get the Excelsior Pass app?
https://epass.ny.gov/home

How do I get the test results into my Excelsior Pass app?
We will transmit the test results to Excelsior Pass within 15 minutes after we process them. To load them into your app, go to the Excelsior Pass website, click on “Get Started,” and follow the instructions. You’ll need to provide some personal information so that the app can locate your test results. Once you’ve done so, you will receive a QR code that you can scan into the app on your smartphone or print out to take to an event. This QR code is valid until midnight on the third day following your test