A test can show if you have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.
When to get a COVID-19 test:
- If you have symptoms of COVID-19.
- If you have been around someone who might have COVID-19. Remember, some people can have COVID-19 without any symptoms.
How to get a COVID-19 test:
- The best time to get tested is 5-7 days after you might have been exposed to COVID-19.
- You can get a COVID-19 test for free, even if you don’t have health insurance.
- If you have a doctor, try calling them first. Many doctors offer COVID-19 testing.
- Find other places to get a COVID-19 test in your state.
While you are waiting for your test result, stay at home, away from other people in case you have COVID-19.
If you test positive for COVID-19:
- Stay at home, away from other people, until:
- At least 10 days after your your first symptoms started, or after your positive test, AND
- At least 24 hours with no fever, without using fever medicine, AND
- Symptoms other than fever are improving.
- Talk to your contacts, which means all the people you have been around.
- You can spread COVID-19 starting two days before you feel sick or test positive, and for at least ten days afterwards.
- Think about every person who you have been around during that time. This might include people you live or stay with, friends, family, coworkers, classmates, and teachers.
- Let them know that they might have been exposed to COVID-19, and they should stay away from other people in case they are infected.
When to get medical care:
- Most people with COVID-19 get better without needing to see a doctor. You can use over-the-counter medicines to treat your fever or cough.
- If you have any of these warning signs, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. Call ahead and let them know that you may have COVID-19.
- Trouble breathing
- Lips or face turning blue
- Chest pain or pressure that doesn’t go away
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
If you test negative for COVID-19:
- You probably do not have COVID-19. However, some people can get a “false negative,” which means the test is negative even though you do have COVID-19. This can happen if you test too soon after being exposed.
- If you were around someone with COVID-19, you should still stay at home, away from other people, for 14 days. It can take that long for a new COVID-19 infection to show up.
Types of COVID-19 tests:
- PCR test: This test shows if you currently have the virus that causes COVID-19. It can take several days to get the result. This is the most accurate type of COVID-19 test.
- Antigen test: This test also shows if you currently have the virus that causes COVID-19. It is not as accurate as the PCR test for COVID-19.
- Rapid test: This type of test is run at the clinic, so your results may be available in minutes or hours.
- At-home test kit: This type of test lets you collect a sample at home and send it directly to the lab for reading.
- Antibody test: This test does not show if you currently have COVID-19. If your antibody test is positive, you probably had COVID-19 in the past.
Remember that you may be able to get COVID-19 again, even if you had it already.
More information from FDA on COVID-19 testing