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When to Get Tested for COVID-19

  • If you have symptoms, test immediately.
  • If you were exposed to COVID-19 and do not have symptoms, wait at least 5 full days after your exposure before testing. If you test too early, you may be more likely to get an inaccurate result.
  • If you are in certain high-risk settings, you may need to test as part of a screening testing program.
  • Consider testing before contact with someone at high risk for severe COVID-19, especially if you are in an area with a medium or high COVID-19 Community Level.
What is Covid-19?
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2), a virus from the coronavirus subfamily. COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease and can spread through human-to-human transmissions, such as close contact with infected individuals or by being in enclosed spaces where contaminated droplets or airborne particles circulate. For more and updated information on COVID-19 transmission, please click here.
What are the symptoms of Covid-19?
Symptoms may begin 1-14 days after exposure to the virus, and can include fever, cough, breathing difficulties, fatigue, and loss of smell and taste. Most people with COVID-19 exhibit mild to moderate symptoms, while some exhibit no noticeable symptoms at all. However, there are people who will develop severe symptoms from COVID-19, with outcomes that can include hospitalization, intensive care, post-sickness conditions, and even death. Individuals infected with COVID-19 can remain contagious for up to 20 days, and can spread the virus even if they themselves do not develop symptoms. For more and updated information on COVID-19 symptoms, please click here.
Who is most at risk of severe illness due to Covid-19?
People most at risk are older people aged 60 years and over, as well as individuals of any age with underlying medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart or lung disease, diabetes, or cancer. However, anyone can get sick with COVID-19 and become seriously ill, even people considered healthy and low risk. For more and updated information on groups at increased risk of severe illness due to COVID-19, please click here.
What if I have a positive test result?
A positive result means that, it is very likely that you have COVID-19 because proteins from the virus that causes COVID-19 were found in your sample. You should self-isolate from others and contact healthcare provider for medical advice about your positive result. Your healthcare provider will work with you to determine how best to care for you based on your test result(s), medical history, and symptoms.
What if I have a negative test result?
A negative test result indicates that antigens from the virus that causes COVID-19 was not found in your sample. If you have symptoms, you likely do not have COVID-19. If you do not have symptoms and you receive a second negative result 24 to 48 hours after your first negative result, then you are likely not infected with COVID-19.
What if I have an invalid test result?
If no control line shows up on the test, the result is invalid (even if any test line shows up). An invalid result means the test was not able to tell if you have COVID-19 or not. If the test is invalid, a new swab should be used to collect a new nasal specimen and the test should be run again, using all new test components.