COVID-19 Testing: Frequently Asked Questions 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. Versión en Español On This Page Getting Tested Types of Tests Testing Sites After Testing Reporting and Privacy Find Tests Near Me Get At-Home Tests or Kits Frequently Asked Questions Getting Tested Who should get tested? You should get tested for COVID-19 if the following are true: You have symptoms of COVID-19. Get tested even if you are up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccines. You have come into close contact with someone with COVID-19. Get tested at least five days after you last had close contact with someone with COVID-19. The date of the last close contact is day 0. You are not up-to-date with your COVID-19 vaccines and have been prioritized for expanded community screening for COVID-19. You were asked or referred to get testing by your: school, workplace, health care provider, or state, tribal, local or territorial health department. You are traveling (get tested before and after travel). More Information from the CDC on Testing for Current Infection I’ve been around a person who was diagnosed with COVID-19. When should I get tested? If you were exposed to COVID-19, your next steps vary based on your COVID-19 vaccination status. If you are up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccinations: You do not need to stay home unless you develop symptoms. If you develop symptoms, isolate immediately and get tested. Get tested at least five days after your exposure, even if you don't develop symptoms. If you are NOT up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccinations: Stay home and quarantine for at least five full days. Wear a well-fitting mask if you must be around others in your home. If you develop symptoms, isolate immediately and get tested. Get tested at least five days after your exposure, even if you don't develop symptoms. Watch for symptoms until 10 days after you last had close contact with someone with COVID-19. With vaccines available, is testing still necessary? Yes. Anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 or has been exposed to COVID-19 should get tested as soon as possible. Testing helps locate virus transmission in North Carolina’s communities. Knowing where COVID-19 spread is high allows us to take action to protect one another. I don’t have health insurance. Can I still get tested? Yes. If you don't have health insurance: The NC Medicaid Optional COVID-19 (MCV) Testing Program may help pay for COVID-19 testing costs. To be eligible, you must: Live in North Carolina Be a U.S. citizen or U.S. national or have eligible immigration status Not be covered by Medicaid, Medicare or other health insurance To apply, complete an application online These community organizations may have rapid at-home tests available at low or no-cost: Local health departments Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) Rural health clinics Other community-based organizations Go to pharmacy locations, such as CVS or select Walgreens and Walmart testing sites, at no cost. Go to a no-cost testing site. Get free at-home tests Anyone 18 and older in NC can request a no-cost, at-home COVID-19 test collection kit. Parents or guardians can request a test collection kit for those aged 2-17. Learn how to request a kit. How can I find a COVID-19 test or testing event? There are many ways you can get tested: Find a list of free community testing sites. Find other testing sites. There may be a fee for testing. Your health care provider may provide COVID-19 testing. Find resources for at-home or self tests. Some options are free or allow for billing to health insurances. Visit Find COVID-19 Tests for more information and to search for or order tests. How do I get at-home or self tests? At-home or self tests are available in many ways: Order free tests for home delivery. Buy online or at your local pharmacy, using health insurance. Pick up tests from community organizations. Request a home collection PCR kit for home delivery. Learn more about at-home tests and how to order or buy them. Types of Tests What types of tests diagnose COVID-19? Rapid Point-of-Care tests: Are given by someone other than the person getting tested. Take minutes to test and get results. Can include antigen and some NAATs, a type of diagnostic test. At-Home tests: Are also called self tests. Are a type of rapid antigen test taken at home or anywhere. Are easy to use and provide rapid results. Laboratory tests: May take between six and 72 hours for results. Include PCR tests. CDC Information About COVID-19 Testing 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. At-home tests are also called self tests. They are a type of rapid antigen test that you can take at home or anywhere. You can take them regardless of your vaccination status and even if you do not have symptoms. These tests are easy to use and provide rapid results. You do not need a prescription to buy them. How to Get At-Home Tests Is there a list of approved at-home tests? Yes. The FDA has a list of all approved tests. The list includes information about who can use the tests, shelf life and more. What is an antibody test? Is North Carolina tracking antibody tests in its 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. 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 from the CDC. Testing Sites Are schools offering testing? NCDHHS encourages all N.C. schools to offer COVID-19 testing. The StrongSchoolsNC testing program: Ensures free, easy access to testing. Detects COVID-19 and reduces the spread. Helps keep students in the classroom. Find out if your school is participating. Are workplaces offering testing? Some employers may choose to set up COVID-19 testing. This testing is part of their efforts to protect employees. Please reach out to your employer if you want to learn more about testing at your workplace. What safety protocols are in place at testing sites? Health and safety are a top priority at all testing sites. Testing site staff follow the 3Ws (Wear, Wait, Wash) and use personal protective equipment (PPE). They also complete safety training. Are all testing sites the same? No. You can call the test site before going to find out more information like availability and hours. Not all health care providers have testing on-site. You may need an appointment or referral at some sites. Locations may also change. Does NCDHHS provide guidance on hosting testing events? Yes. Our Partner COVID-19 Testing Toolkit provides guidance for hosting testing events. The kit is useful for organizations, churches and nonprofits. It is available in English and Spanish. After Testing How long does it take to receive COVID-19 test results? Test result times vary: Point-of-Care tests may have results available at the testing site in less than an hour. Rapid home tests give results in minutes. Other tests, like PCR collection kits, must go to a lab. Results may take a few hours to a few days. When you get tested, talk with the provider or lab about how long it will take to get your results. Test results are not available by calling 2-1-1. Learn more about the different types of tests. What do I do while I'm waiting for my test results? It depends. If you have symptoms or were exposed to someone with COVID-19, stay home and avoid others. If you do not have symptoms and were not exposed, you do not need to stay home unless your employer or a health provider told you to do so. Visit our What to Do If You Feel Sick page for more information. How do I access my test results? It depends on your testing location and the type of test you took. Ask your provider or lab about how to get your test results. Test results are not available by calling 2-1-1. What do I do if my test is negative? Follow current CDC quarantine and isolation guidelines if: You were tested because you have symptoms. A health care provider thinks you have COVID-19, even with a negative test. You were tested because of known contact with someone who has COVID-19. You can resume regular activities if: You were tested for another reason, like workplace screening. You do not have known or suspected contact with someone who has COVID-19. You have no symptoms. Vaccines are better than treatment. Once you are feeling well, get your free, safe COVID-19 vaccine or find out if you need a booster. What do I do if my test is positive? If you test positive, stay away from others and follow the CDC's isolation guidelines. Seek medical care immediately if you have trouble breathing or experience other warning signs. COVID-19 treatments are available and can lower your risk of hospitalization or death: Find a test to treat location to get treatment started ASAP Talk to your doctor about treatment Or call 1-888-675-4567. The call center can help if you do not have a health care provider. Reporting and Privacy I'm fearful I will experience discrimination if I 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 is treated as a private health record. If you test positive and are in isolation, you are doing the right thing. You are protecting your community and loved ones. COVID-19 Community Team members will show compassion and support on calls and texts. They will never judge. It is harder for our state to slow the spread if people do not get tested because they fear how others will treat them. 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. NCDHHS requires labs and health care providers to report all COVID-19 testing results to the Department. This is pursuant to Session Law 2020-4 Section 4.10.(a).Labs and health care providers can submit this information electronically.