COVID-19 Testing

SHOULD I GET TESTED FOR COVID-19?

Your healthcare provider will decide whether you should get a COVID-19 test. There are many factors to consider, such as which test to give you, when and where. Tests are most accurate for people who are showing symptoms of COVID-19.

If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, or if you have COVID-19 symptoms, please stay home and away from others so you don’t get them sick. Do not go to work, the grocery store or pharmacy; have friends over; or exercise in a group. Call your healthcare provider or a clinic right away. They can help you determine whether you need medical evaluation, including testing.

WHEN SHOULD I GET TESTED?

Testing 3-14 days after exposure is recommended, as the likelihood of a positive test in an infected person remains close to zero until 3-4 days after exposure. Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear 2-14 days after exposure. Individuals without symptoms may expose others while contagious. If you have COVID-19 symptoms or have had direct contact with someone who has COVID-19, please quarantine until your test results come back. 

WHERE CAN I GET TESTED?

Talk with your healthcare provider about where to access testing for:

  • Those who may have COVID-19 symptoms 
  • A known or possible exposure to someone with COVID-19
  • Those who do not have any COVID-19 symptoms
  • The appropriate type of test
  • The appropriate test result turnaround time

If you do not have an established primary care provider, some clinics are accepting new patients. You may need to schedule an appointment as a new patient at a location that offers COVID-19 testing or have a referral from a medical provider. 

Find a testing location near you

WHICH TEST SHOULD I GET?

There are 3 types of COVID-19 test: molecular, antigen and antibody. Each test also comes in a rapid version known as a point-of-care (POC) test. Please contact your medical provider to learn more about the right test for you. ​

 MOLECULAR PCRMOLECULAR POCANTIGEN POCANTIBODY LAB & POC
RESULT TURNAROUND1+ day(s)15 mins.15 mins.Lab: 1+ day(s);
POC: 15 mins.
TESTS FOR ACTIVE INFECTION
HIGHLY ACCURATE POSITIVE RESULT
HIGHLY ACCURATE NEGATIVE RESULT⚠ may need PCR test to confirm✗ tests for past infection
OTHER NAMES FOR THIS TESTNucleic acid, NAAT, RT-PCRRapid molecular, rapid NAATRapid antigen

WHAT DO MY TEST RESULTS MEAN?

What if I test positive?

First, isolate yourself from others to keep from spreading the virus to your family and friends.
Your results will be reported to the health department and you will receive a call from a contact tracer. Your information is strictly confidential and will not be shared with other agencies, including immigration officials.

Contact tracers are able to help you:

  • Complete self-isolation away from everyone, including the people you live with and family members. Remain at home or at a location provided by the health department unless you are seeking medical care.
  • Care for yourself
  • Access resources available in our community

What if I test negative?

If you test negative, you must still take precautions to keep yourself and others safe. Maintaining physical distancing and wearing a mask are critical. Because tests can provide a false negative result, if you have COVID-19 symptoms or you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, you should continue to follow public health recommendations to stay home.

Note that a negative test result does not change the need to quarantine if you are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or is presumed positive.

Is it possible to get a false positive on a viral (molecular or antigen) test?

Positive viral tests are accurate more than 95% of the time.

Is it possible to get a false negative on a viral (molecular or antigen) test?

A false negative happens about a third of the time. If you test negative, you should still complete the 14-day quarantine.