Page last updated/reviewed 1/26/2024.
There are a number of ways you can test to see if you have COVID-19. Contact your healthcare provider, visit your local drug store, or find a testing site in your community. If you do not have a healthcare provider and would like to get connected to one, call 2-1-1. If you have serious symptoms, like difficulty breathing, call 9-1-1.
See below, or click the following links, for more information:
Home Test to Treat is a program that offers no-cost tests and treatment (if eligible) for COVID-19 and flu at home.
- If you are currently positive for COVID-19 or flu, you can enroll to receive telehealth services and treatment (if prescribed).
- If you are not currently positive for COVID-19 or flu, you can enroll to receive free tests and telemedicine services if you become sick.
For more information about the program and/or to register, visit www.test2treat.org.
Self-test kits, sometimes also called “home tests,” “at-home tests,” or “over-the-counter (OTC) tests,” give rapid results and can be taken anywhere.
- Detect current infection.
- Give results in 10-15 minutes and are usually antigen tests. These are different from laboratory-based PCR tests or self-collected samples that are sent to a laboratory which may take days to return your result.
- For more information, see Self-Testing At Home or Anywhere (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Self-test can be purchased in stores, pharmacies, and online. Visit the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) website for a list of authorized tests.
- Through the federal government, every U.S. household may place an order to receive four (4) free at-home COVID-19 tests delivered directly to your home. To place an order, visit COVIDTests.gov.
- The U.S. government will continue to make COVID-19 tests available to uninsured individuals and underserved communities through existing outreach programs. Please contact a HRSA health center, Test to Treat site, or ICATT location near you to learn how to access low- or no-cost COVID-19 tests provided by the federal government.
- Before you throw out "expired" tests, check to see if your COVID-19 tests' expiration dates have been extended.
How To Use a Self-Test
Go to a Testing Location
Key times to get tested:
- If you have symptoms, test immediately. If you test negative, consider testing again 1-2 days after your first test. If still negative, take a 3rd test in 1-2 days.
- If you are at higher risk of severe disease or have contact with people who are at higher risk for severe COVID-19 infection, and you were exposed to COVID-19 but do not have symptoms, consider testing within 5 days after the last exposure date (Day 0) and prior to contact with higher risk people (including adults 50+ or those with weakened immunity) . If you test negative, consider testing again 1 to 2 days after your first test. If you test too early, you may be more likely to get an inaccurate result.
- Post-exposure testing is not recommended if you were infected with COVID-19 in the last 30 days and do not have symptoms. Testing is recommended for all people with new symptoms of COVID-19.
- If you are in certain high-risk settings, you may need to test as part of a screening testing program.
- If you are going to an indoor event or gathering, test immediately before the gathering, or as close to the time of the event as possible. This is especially important before gathering with individuals at risk of severe disease, older adults, those who are immunocompromised, or people who are not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines, including children who cannot get vaccinated yet.
- Reporting of a self-test result is not required. However, if you feel you need medical attention, sharing your self-test result with your healthcare provider maybe helpful.
COVID-19 home tests can be safely and privately reported at MakeMyTestCount.org
Regardless of vaccination status, if your test result is:
- The test detected the virus, and you have an infection.
- Isolate and take precautions, including wearing a high-quality mask to protect others from getting infected.
- Tell people you had recent contact with that they may have been exposed.
- Watch for symptoms. If you have any emergency warning signs, seek emergency care immediately.
- Contact your healthcare provider, community health center, or pharmacy to learn about treatment options that may be available to you. You are more likely to get very sick if you are an older adult or have an underlying medical condition.
For more information, visit What To Do If You Have COVID-19.
- The test did not detect the virus but does not rule out an infection.
- If you have symptoms:
- You may have COVID-19, but tested before the virus was detectable, or you may have another illness.
- Take general public health precautions to prevent spreading an illness to others.
- Contact your healthcare provider if your symptoms worsen.
- If you do not have symptoms but were exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19, you should continue to take recommended steps after exposure.
- If you do not have symptoms and you have not been exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19, you may continue normal activities.