My Throat Hurts: Is It COVID-19 Or Strep Throat?

February 5, 2022

Is It COVID-19 Or Strep Throat? AFC Urgent Care New Bedford Explains The Differences Between Strep Throat And COVID-19

Our bet is that you’re probably thinking it’s COVID-19. Not so fast. Not all cases of a sore throat are from COVID-19. Although we are experiencing a resurgence in COVID-19 cases thanks to the Omicron variant, we are also in the middle of flu, cold and strep season. Winter is filled with illnesses.  

At this time we are seeing an influx in patients coming in with sore throats. Strep throat is very common and it comes with a nasty and painful sore throat. If you’re confused about the differences of COVID and strep, we’ll help explain them here. 

Strep Throat is a Bacterial Infection, Not a Virus

Did you know that strep throat is actually caused by a bacterial infection? It’s not the same as COVID-19, flu or colds, which are viral infections. It’s caused by highly contagious bacteria called group A Streptococcus. It can easily be spread by coughing, sneezing or sharing things with others (foods, drinks, etc.). 

But, what makes strep throat so different from all other sore throats? The bacteria that causes strep usually targets the throat and tonsils causing a severe sore throat. Some people say that it hurts to swallow while others say it feels like swallowing broken glass. Your lymph nodes may also be swollen causing you to feel achy and sensitive to touch.

You should look out for these symptoms as it can indicate that it’s strep throat:


  • Red, sore throat with white patches on throat and tongue
  • Sudden fever
  • Chills
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Swollen glands in the neck
  • Fatigue

It’s important to note that strep throat doesn’t usually come with respiratory symptoms like viral infections like the flu, COVID-19 and colds do. This is a major difference,  helping you stay informed about what type of sore throat you may have.

I Have A Sore Throat AND Respiratory Symptoms.  Is It COVID-19?

The real concern when it comes to COVID-19 is the respiratory symptoms that accompany it.

You should watch out for these respiratory symptoms:

  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Congestion
  • New loss of smell and/or taste

What Type Of Test Is Used To Determine Strep Throat?


Getting tested is the first step to finding out the cause of your sore throat. The most common test used is a rapid throat swab test for strep. It’s quick and painless. If you test positive for strep, we can prescribe you antibiotics to start treatment on the same day. 


“With the resurgence of COVID-19, your best bet is to seek testing if you are feeling unwell. We strongly recommend COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, as well as the annual flu vaccine, as preventive measures to help reduce your risks of serious illness.” - Dr. Vincent Meoli, AFC  Regional Medical Director


Your best bet is to get tested for both COVID-19 and strep throat to rule out some of the winter illnesses this season.

AFC Urgent Care New Bedford Offers Strep And COVID-19 Tests 

If you suspect your sore throat is from strep, AFC Urgent Care in New Bedford can perform a rapid throat swab test to determine if you are positive or not. While you’re here, we also offer a ‘back to work’ COVID Antigen test, rapid molecular test for COVID-19  and can give you results on the same day for any of these.


We hope you feel better soon. Strep throat usually clears up if you take your FULL prescription. We highly suggest completing it because if you stop too soon, the bacteria causing strep could grow back and be more resistant to the current dose of antibiotics. It’s best to finish your medication to avoid strep from coming back.

We are open 7 days a week on a walk-in basis. No appointment is needed!

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Call (508) 990-1900 for more information about our New Bedford urgent care services.

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