Testing

Check My Symptoms    Comprobar Mis Síntomas

Find My Testing Place

Together, we can protect our loved ones and limit the impact of COVID-19 on our community. With your help, we will slow the spread of COVID-19 so we can once again safely come together with friends and family. 

While right now we are safer at home, North Carolinians cannot stay home indefinitely. Increased testing, expanded contact tracing, and tracking important data will help us ease measures and protect you, your loved ones, and neighbors.

Helping people know if they have COVID-19 or may have been exposed is critical to ensuring they have the resources and support they need and informs when and how we can responsibly ease restrictions.

Who Should Get Tested?

  • Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Close contacts of known positive cases, regardless of symptoms.
    • Get tested immediately if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. If you do not have symptoms, you should wait at least six days after your last known exposure to COVID-19 before you get tested.
  • Groups of some of the populations with higher risk of exposure or a higher risk of severe disease if they become infected. People in these groups should get tested if they believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19, whether or not they have symptoms.   
    • People who live in or have regular contact with high-risk settings (e.g., long-term care facility, homeless shelter, correctional facility, migrant farmworker camp).
    • People from historically marginalized populations who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. This fact sheet provides best practices for community testing in historically marginalized populations.
    • Frontline and essential workers (grocery store clerks, gas station attendants, child care workers, construction sites, processing plants, etc.)
    • Health care workers or first responders.
    • People who are at higher risk of severe illness.
  • People who have attended protests, rallies, or other mass gatherings could have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or could have exposed others.

Most people who get COVID-19 recover without needing medical care. If you are experiencing severe, life threating symptoms (for example, severe difficulty breathing, altered thinking, blue lips), seek immediate medical care or call 9-1-1.

Steps to Take After You Get a Test

Interested in Hosting a Testing Event?

NCDHHS released a Partner COVID-19 Testing Toolkit designed for organizations seeking to host community testing events. The comprehensive toolkit comes in response to widespread interest among North Carolina organizations such as community-based organizations, churches and nonprofits. Read the toolkit in English and Spanish.

Below are frequently asked questions about testing. Read these FAQs in Spanish.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is testing important?

Why is testing important?

Getting tested helps everyone – the person tested, their loved ones, and fellow North Carolinians. When someone gets tested, if the results show that they have COVID-19, they will be connected with the local health department or another member of the COVID-19 Community Team.

The COVID-19 Community Team offers help and support to anyone with COVID-19 or anyone they may have been in contact with. Increased testing, along with expanded contact tracing efforts, help slow the spread of the virus. These efforts will help ensure that North Carolina continues responsibly easing current restrictions, while protecting ourselves and our loved ones.

Who can get tested for COVID-19?

Who can get tested for COVID-19?

Updated guidance recommends that clinicians conduct or arrange for diagnostic COVID-19 testing for: 

  • Anyone with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19.
  • Close contacts of known positive cases, regardless of symptoms.
  • The following groups are some of the populations with higher risk of exposure or a higher risk of severe disease if they become infected. People in these groups should get tested if they believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19, whether or not they have symptoms.  
    • People who live in or have regular contact with high-risk settings (e.g., long-term care facility, homeless shelter, correctional facility, migrant farmworker camp).
    • Historically marginalized populations who may be at higher risk for exposure.
    • Frontline and essential workers (grocery store clerks, gas station attendants, child care workers, construction sites, processing plants, etc.) in settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain.
    • Health care workers or first responders (e.g. EMS, law enforcement, fire department, military).
    • People who are at high risk of severe illness (e.g., people over 65 years of age, people of any age with underlying health conditions).
  • People who have attended protests, rallies, or other mass gatherings could have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or could have exposed others. Testing should be considered for people who attended such events, particularly if they were in crowds or other situations where they couldn’t practice effective social distancing.

 

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

It’s possible for someone to have COVID-19 and not have any symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Learn more about symptoms.   

How high should my fever be, and how long should I have it, before I get tested?

How high should my fever be, and how long should I have it, before I get tested?

A person does not need to have a fever to get tested. If a person has been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, or if they begin experiencing mild to moderate symptoms (for example, body aches and cough, or a fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit), they should get tested.

Are there other populations that should get tested regardless of symptoms?

Are there other populations that should get tested regardless of symptoms?

Yes. Anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to COVID-19 where they live, work, learn or play should get tested. The following groups are some of the populations with higher risk of exposure or a higher risk of severe disease if they become infected. People in these groups should get tested if they believe they have been exposed to COVID-19.

  • People who live in or have regular contact with high-risk settings (such as a long-term care facility, homeless shelter, correctional facility or migrant farmworker camp)
  • People who are at high risk of severe illness (e.g., people over 65 years of age, people of any age with underlying health conditions)
  • People who come from historically marginalized populations
  • Health care workers or first responders (such as EMS, law enforcement, fire department, military)
  • Frontline and essential workers (grocery store clerks, gas station attendants, etc.) in settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain
  • People who have attended protests, rallies, or other mass gatherings could have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or could have exposed others.
How does testing work?

How does testing work?

If someone needs a test, they can get one by calling their doctor or clinician, their Local Health Department, or find a nearby testing location at Find My Testing Place website. Find My Testing Place will provide people with a list of testing locations near them. Anyone interested in getting tested should call the test site before they go to learn about testing criteria, availability, hours and location.

COVID-19 is diagnosed through a laboratory test. During the test, a sample is collected from the inside of the person's nose. This is typically done with a skinny swab that is long enough to reach the upper part of the throat, behind the nose. The swab won't hurt, but it may be uncomfortable for a few seconds. The swab takes a few seconds to complete, and then the sample is sent to a lab for testing.

Other tests must be sent to a laboratory to analyze. This process may take up to a few days once the swab is received by the lab. The provider who gave the test will be the one to call to get the results.

Will I need to get tested again if I test negative for COVID-19?

Will I need to get tested again if I test negative for COVID-19?

If someone gets tested and the results show that they do not have COVID-19, they may need to get tested again if they start experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or come into contact with someone who has tested positive.

What is North Carolina’s testing goal?

What is North Carolina’s testing goal?

For more information about testing, trends and key metrics, visit the NC COVID-19 Dashboard.
 

Where can I find a nearby testing site location?

Where can I find a nearby testing site location?

Visit Find My Testing Place to locate a nearby testing site. Find My Testing Place is an interactive map on the NCDHHS COVID-19 website that allows users to enter their ZIP code and get a list of nearby testing site locations. It is free and available in many languages. Click on the Google Translate dropdown menu to select the preferred language.

If someone does not have internet or smartphone access, they can also find a testing site by calling their healthcare provider or local health department.

 

How do I know if I should get tested for COVID-19?

How do I know if I should get tested for COVID-19?

While there is no substitute for a conversation with a medical provider, Check My Symptoms is a public website that allows someone to enter their symptoms to see if they should get tested for COVID-19. After entering symptoms -- if getting tested is recommended -- they will receive a text or email with how to find nearby testing locations. The symptom checker is an informational tool to help you determine if you may need to be tested; however, it is not a physician order. Some testing locations may require additional screenings.

If a person does not have internet or smartphone access, they can check their symptoms by calling their healthcare provider or local health department.

Who performs testing?

Who performs testing?

COVID-19 testing is provided at some local health departments, doctor and clinician offices, many hospitals and clinics, many pharmacy sites and retail outlets, and pop-up test sites. Find a nearby testing site at Find My Testing Place.

How can I get tested?

How can I get tested?

In addition to calling a doctor or local health department, people may visit Find My Testing Place to find a testing site near them.

Additionally, while there is no substitute to a conversation with a medical provider, people can check their symptoms online through the Check My Symptoms tool. After entering their symptoms, if testing is recommended, they will receive a text or email with how to find nearby testing locations. The symptom checker is an informational tool to help you determine if you may need to be tested; however, it is not a physician order. Some testing locations may require additional screenings.

Are all testing sites the same?

Are all testing sites the same?

No. Information continues to evolve quickly, so we encourage everyone to call the test site before they go to learn about testing criteria, availability, hours and location. Not all health care providers provide testing on-site. Some require additional screenings or an appointment and/or referral from a health care provider. Locations may also change.

Does North Carolina provide drive-thru testing locations?

Does North Carolina provide drive-thru testing locations?

Yes. North Carolina is working with Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, and Harris Teeter to provide drive-thru testing throughout the state. Additionally, local organizations may host drive-thru testing events in local communities. Please call the test site to learn about testing criteria, availability, hours and location. People may visit Find My Testing Place to find a drive-thru testing site near them.

I don’t have health insurance. Can I still get tested?

I don’t have health insurance. Can I still get tested?

Yes. If someone does not have health insurance, they can call their nearest Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). If that person believes that they may have COVID-19, they should be sure to let the FQHC know that when they call for an appointment. FQHCs are community-based health care providers that receive federal funds to provide health services in communities across the state.

If a person cannot be seen at an FQHC, they should call their local health department. Additionally, if someone does not have insurance, they can receive testing at CVS locations across the state and select Walgreens, Walmart and Harris Teeter testing sites at no cost.

How long does it take to receive COVID-19 test results?

How long does it take to receive COVID-19 test results?

Test result times vary. Some tests are point-of-care tests, meaning results may be available at the testing site in less than an hour. Other tests must be sent to a laboratory to analyze. This process may take a few days once received by the lab.

When someone gets a test, they should speak with the provider or laboratory that performed the test about when and how they will receive their test results. Test results are not available by calling 2-1-1.

How do I access my test results?

How do I access my test results?

How a person accesses their test results will depend on their testing location. Ask the provider or laboratory that performs their test about when and how they will receive their test results. Test results are not available by calling 2-1-1.

What do I do while I'm waiting for my test results?

What do I do while I'm waiting for my test results?

It depends. If you have symptoms or were tested because you were exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should stay home and avoid anyone in your household.

If you were tested but have no symptoms and no known exposure to someone with COVID-19 (for example, as part of a workplace screening program), you do not need to stay home while waiting for your results unless told to do so by your employer or by public health.

Learn more about the steps you should take after you've been tested.

I’ve been around a person who was diagnosed with COVID-19. When should I get tested?

I’ve been around a person who was diagnosed with COVID-19. When should I get tested?

If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, you should quarantine at home and avoid contact with other members of your household for 14 days past your last known exposure to COVID-19. Get tested immediately if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. If you do not have symptoms, you should wait at least six days after your last known exposure to COVID-19 before you get tested. Even if your test comes back negative, you should still quarantine for 14 days after your last known exposure to COVID-19. Steps to take if your test comes back positive are here.

What do I do if my test is negative?

What do I do if my test is negative?

If you were tested because you have symptoms, you should stay home until you have no fever without the use of fever-reducing medicines, and you have felt well for at least 24 hours.

If you were tested because of a known contact to someone with COVID-19, you should follow the quarantine guidance (stay home and avoid contact with other members of your household) until 14 days after your last exposure.

If you were tested for another reason and have no symptoms, you can resume your regular activities.

Learn more about the steps you should take if your test was negative..

People should continue to practice the 3 Ws (wear, wait, and wash) whenever they leave home. Wearing a cloth face covering if someone will be with other people, waiting 6 feet apart, and washing their hands often can help protect themselves and their loved ones.

What do I do if my test is positive?

What do I do if my test is positive?

Per CDC guidelines, if your test comes back positive and you had symptoms, you should stay home and isolate (avoid anyone in your household) until you can say yes to all three questions:

  • Has it been at least 10 days since you first had symptoms? AND
  • Has it been 24 hours since you last had a fever without using fever-reducing medicine? AND
  • Have your symptoms, such as coughing and shortness of breath, improved?

Learn more about the steps you should take after you've been tested.

Per CDC guidelines, if your test comes back positive and you did not have symptoms, you should stay home and isolate (avoid anyone in your household) until 10 days have passed since the date of your first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test, assuming you did not develop symptoms since your positive test.

If you have tested positive for COVID-19, the local health department or another member of the COVID-19 Community Team will call to ensure you have the information and support you need, such as tips for staying at home and monitoring symptoms.

To protect your family and friends and slow the spread of the virus, the COVID-19 Community Team member will also ask you who you have recently been near. The COVID-19 Community Team will reach out to anyone who has been near the person who has tested positive to share information and support, as well as help them get tested. The team will not share your name or personal  information. This information is confidential and will remain private.

What is the COVID-19 Community Team?

What is the COVID-19 Community Team?

Learn more about the COVID-19 Community Team and contact tracing.

Will the COVID-19 Community Team collect information on ethnicity and race if someone tests positive for COVID-19?

Will the COVID-19 Community Team collect information on ethnicity and race if someone tests positive for COVID-19?

Yes. A member of the COVID-19 Community Team may ask questions about ethnicity and race when they call. Collecting this information helps ensure that people in historically marginalized populations, who may be more impacted by the virus, have information and support. Race and ethnicity information is strictly confidential and will be treated as the private health record it is. It is also voluntary.

How do I know if I’ve been near someone who has tested positive for COVID-19?

How do I know if I’ve been near someone who has tested positive for COVID-19?

In some instances, people may not know if they have come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. The local health department or another member of the COVID-19 Community Team will reach out if:

  • someone has tested positive for COVID-19; or
  • someone has been in close contact (within 6 feet, for at least 15 minutes) with a person who tested positive for COVID-19

These staff verify everyone has the information they may need and help connect people to local resources. They will also ask about people they may have recently been near.

 

If I’ve come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, should I get tested?

If I’ve come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, should I get tested?

Yes. Anyone who has come in close contact (within 6 feet, for at least 15 minutes) with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 should get tested, even if they are not feeling sick. 

Is there a cure or vaccine available for COVID-19?

Is there a cure or vaccine available for COVID-19?

No. Currently there is no cure or vaccine to protect against COVID-19, but there is work underway to develop a vaccine. The best way to protect yourself from the virus is to take common-sense precautions. This includes practicing the 3 Ws whenever you leave home:

  • Wear a cloth face covering if you will be with other people.
  • Wait 6 feet apart. Avoid close contact.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer.
Are there races or ethnicities that may be at higher risk for contracting the virus?

Are there races or ethnicities that may be at higher risk for contracting the virus?

No one group, ethnicity or population is more likely to get or spread the virus than others. Where people live, learn, work and play, and the type of work they do, can contribute to their health. These conditions, over time, can lead to different levels of health risks, needs and outcomes among some people in historically marginalized populations.

I'm fearful that I will be discriminated against if I get tested and test positive for COVID-19. Can I get tested or access my results without others knowing?

I'm fearful that I will be discriminated against if I get tested and test positive for COVID-19. Can I get tested or access my results without others knowing?

NCDHHS and the COVID-19 Community Team will not release names or other identifiable information to anyone. Personal information is strictly confidential and will be treated as the private health record it is. People who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are in isolation, and people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and are self-monitoring, are doing the right thing and protecting their communities and loved ones. COVID-19 Community Team members will offer compassion, support via phone and texts, and help as appropriate, but never hostility or judgment.

While some people may be worried or have concerns about COVID-19, no one should be treated differently. All people should be treated with compassion and people should speak up if they hear others making statements against people in their community. It will be much harder for our state to slow the spread of COVID-19 if people are fearful about how they will be treated if they come forward for testing, support and help.

Does testing provide all the metrics needed to determine if we are effectively slowing the spread of the virus in North Carolina?

Does testing provide all the metrics needed to determine if we are effectively slowing the spread of the virus in North Carolina?

No. Testing does not capture the complete picture of COVID-19 in the state. Tracking several key trends and metrics, increasing testing, and expanding contact tracing will help guide our path forward and ensure North Carolina can continue to responsibly ease restrictions.

Is North Carolina tracking the total number of tests per county?

Is North Carolina tracking the total number of tests per county?

At this time, NCDHHS and local health departments are unable to track total test numbers per county in North Carolina because close to 40 percent of tests currently reported do not include patient information including county and ZIP codes. For more information about key trends and metrics, visit the NC COVID-19 dashboard.

Does North Carolina track the number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and recovered?

Does North Carolina track the number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and recovered?

Yes. For more information about key trends and metrics, visit the NC COVID-19 dashboard.

Are hospitals and private labs required to report all negative tests?

Are hospitals and private labs required to report all negative tests?

Yes. Pursuant to Session Law 2020-4 Section 4.10.(a), NCDHHS will be requiring each laboratory or health care provider to report the results of all COVID-19 testing to the Department. NCDHHS is working with labs and health care providers to submit this information electronically.

What is an antibody test and is North Carolina tracking antibody tests in our testing data?

What is an antibody test and is North Carolina tracking antibody tests in our testing data?

Two kinds of tests are available for COVID-19: viral tests and antibody tests. A viral test tells someone if they currently have COVID-19. It is also called a diagnostic test. An antibody test tells someone if they had the virus before. It is not known yet if having antibodies to the virus can protect someone from getting the virus again, or how long that protection might last.

Antibody tests are not included in NCDHHS’ total test numbers.

Learn more about the types of tests available in this video from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

If I get tested, should I take part in clinical trials for COVID-19?

If I get tested, should I take part in clinical trials for COVID-19?

Vetted clinical and vaccine research are key to finding treatment and developing a vaccine for COVID-19. NCDHHS does not have direct involvement with clinical and vaccine trials.

What is the Statewide Standing Order for COVID-19 Testing?

What is the Statewide Standing Order for COVID-19 Testing?

The Statewide Standing Order allows testing sites to collect and submit samples to a laboratory for COVID-19 testing without requiring a specific order and authorizes testing sites to receive results directly from laboratories. This will facilitate community-based testing sites and reduce barriers to testing, especially for members of historically marginalized populations who may be less likely to have a medical home. For more information, read the Statewide Standing Order for COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing.

How can my community organization host a testing event?

How can my community organization host a testing event?

Review NCDHHS's Partner COVID-19 Testing Toolkit, which is designed for organizations seeking to host community testing events. organizations, churches and nonprofits. The Toolkit is available in English and Spanish

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