Testing NOTE: If you have recently tested positive for COVID-19 and have had symptoms for 10 days or less, talk to your health care provider to see if monoclonal antibody therapy is an option for you or find a treatment center near you. Be Sure. Get Tested for COVID-19. It has never been easier or faster to get tested. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or think you may have COVID-19, you should get tested. Find My Testing Place Version en Español Fully vaccinated individuals should get tested if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Unvaccinated individuals should get tested if they: Are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Individuals who are experiencing symptoms should get tested immediately. Have come in contact with someone who has COVID-19, even if they are not experiencing symptoms. If they do not have symptoms, they should wait at least six days after their last known exposure to COVID-19 before they get tested. If available through an employer or another organization, unvaccinated individuals can be part of a program where they get tested regularly for COVID-19. Frequently Asked Questions Testing Options With vaccines available, is testing still necessary? Yes. Testing helps locate the virus in North Carolina’s communities and allows us to take action to protect one another. Until enough of us are protected by the vaccine, we need to keep protecting each other. Do I need to get tested if I am fully vaccinated? Fully vaccinated individuals should get tested if they have COVID-19 symptoms. For more information, read our frequently asked questions about vaccines. I don’t have health insurance. Can I still get tested? Yes. If someone does not have health insurance, they have options: 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. The state contracts with vendors to provide no-cost testing to North Carolinians. Anyone who receives Food and Nutritional Services (FNS) benefits or has a disability that may make it difficult to travel to a COVID-19 testing site may qualify for a no-cost, at-home COVID-19 test collection kit. Check to see if you qualify and request a kit. How can I find a COVID-19 test? It has never been easier or faster to get tested. If someone needs a test, they can get one by: Visiting a no-cost community testing event Visiting a nearby test site Picking up an at-home test at a local pharmacy, where available Calling a health care provider For more information about testing options, visit ncdhhs.gov/GetTested. What type of tests are used to diagnose COVID-19? Two types of common tests are PCR and rapid antigen tests. COVID-19 PCR tests detect the genetic material (RNA) that is specific to COVID-19. A PCR test can detect the virus within days of infection and is generally more sensitive than a rapid antigen test, especially for people who are not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. PCR test results can take 1-3 days as the tests are analyzed in a laboratory, but results can be done in as little as 24 hours. COVID-19 rapid antigen tests work to detect proteins that are specific to the virus that causes COVID-19 and do not typically need to be sent to a lab to be analyzed. People with COVID-19 symptoms and a negative COVID-19 antigen test should get a PCR test to confirm the negative results. Learn more about COVID-19 diagnostic tests from the CDC. How do at-home tests work? At-home COVID-19 tests are a great option for anyone who can’t make it to a testing site. Check with your local pharmacy for availability. These tests are performed by an individual at home. Instructions should be followed very carefully when taking the test. Anyone who receives Food and Nutritional Services (FNS) benefits or has a disability that may make it difficult to travel to a COVID-19 testing site may qualify for a no-cost, at-home COVID-19 test collection kit. Check to see if you qualify and request a kit. 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. 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. Will testing be done at schools? To slow the spread of COVID-19 in North Carolina and to protect teachers, staff, students, and their families, K-12 public schools can get COVID-19 tests through NCDHHS. Making it easy for our students, families, and staff to get tested helps our schools safely and confidently continue in-person learning. Testing helps us more easily detect the virus and take quick action to keep it from spreading. Learn more. Will testing be done at workplaces? Some employers may choose to set up screening testing as part of their efforts to protect employees. What safety protocols are in place at testing sites? Health and safety are a top priority at all testing sites. Staff are trained in safety protocols, have an adequate supply of protective equipment like masks and gloves, and everyone is required to practice the 3 Ws (Wear. Wait. Wash.) on site. Are all testing sites the same? No. 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. 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. 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 from a few hours to 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 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? It depends. If someone has symptoms or were tested because they were exposed to someone with COVID-19, they should stay home and avoid anyone in their household. If the individual was tested but has no symptoms and no known exposure to someone with COVID-19 (for example, as part of a workplace screening program), they do not need to stay home while waiting for results unless told to do so by the employer or by public health. Learn more about the steps to take after being tested. I’ve been around a person who was diagnosed with COVID-19. When should I get tested? Fully vaccinated individuals should get tested if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Those who are not fully vaccinated and have been exposed to COVID-19 should quarantine at home and avoid contact with other members of the household for 14 days past their last known exposure to COVID-19. They should get tested immediately if experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. If they do not have symptoms, they should wait at least six days after their last known exposure to COVID-19 before they get tested. Even if the test comes back negative, they should still quarantine for 14 days after their last known exposure to COVID-19. Find out what steps to take if the test comes back positive. Learn more about quarantine guidance for the general community. What do I do if my test is negative? If a person was tested because they have symptoms, they should stay home until they have no fever without the use of fever-reducing medicines, and they have felt well for at least 24 hours. If they were tested because of a known contact to someone with COVID-19, they should follow the quarantine guidance (stay home and avoid contact with other members of the household) until 14 days after their last exposure. If they were tested for another reason and have no symptoms, they can resume their regular activities. Learn more about the steps you should take if the test was negative. What do I do if my test is positive? Per CDC guidelines, if a test comes back positive and the individual had symptoms, they should stay home and isolate (avoid anyone in their household) until they can say yes to all three questions: Has it been at least 10 days since they first had symptoms? AND Has it been 24 hours since they last had a fever without using fever-reducing medicine? AND Have their symptoms, such as coughing and shortness of breath, improved? Learn more about the steps to take after being tested. If you have recently tested positive for COVID-19 and have had symptoms for 10 days or less, talk to your health care provider to see if monoclonal antibody therapy is an option for you or find a treatment center near you. Per CDC guidelines, if a test comes back positive and the individual did not have symptoms, they should stay home and isolate (avoid anyone in their household) until 10 days have passed since the date of the first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test, assuming they did not develop symptoms since the positive test. If they have tested positive for COVID-19, the local health department or another member of the COVID-19 Community Team will call to ensure they have the information and support they need, such as tips for staying at home and monitoring symptoms. To protect family and friends and slow the spread of the virus, the COVID-19 Community Team member will also ask who they have recently been nearby. 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 their name or personal information. This information is confidential and will remain private. Reporting Test Results 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 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? Yes. Pursuant to Session Law 2020-4 Section 4.10.(a), NCDHHS requires 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.