When to Get Tested
Here’s when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) says you should consider getting a COVID-19 test:
- 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 unless you develop symptoms. 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.
Where to Get a Test
Visit COVID.gov/tests to stay up to date on all the latest information regarding COVID-19 testing.
You can take a COVID-19 test at home or at a testing site. Your health care provider can help you make a decision about which type of test is right for you.
At-home rapid antigen tests are available for sale at local pharmacies and retailers such as CVS, Walgreens, Target and many grocery store pharmacies.
Through May 11, 2023:
- Your health insurance company will pay you back for eight (8) at-home tests per month for each person on your health insurance plan.
- The federal government will mail you four (4) free at-home tests as long as your last order for free tests was before Dec. 15, 2022.
Beginning May 12, 2023:
- Most commercial health insurers in Massachusetts will no longer cover the cost of at-home COVID-19 tests, though they will likely continue to cover COVID-19 tests ordered by a doctor.
- People on Medicare will also no longer receive free at-home COVID tests unless they are covered by a Medicare Advantage plan that chooses to offer the benefit.
- People on Medicaid programs, such as MassHealth, will have access to free COVID-19 at-home tests until September 30, 2024.
COVID-19 Testing Sites
There are many sites in the community offering no-cost COVID-19 testing, including many local pharmacies and labs. These tests are ordered by a doctor, and the sites bill your health insurance company for the test. Find locations that offer these types of COVID-19 tests near you.
UMass Memorial Health Pre-Procedure Physician-Ordered Testing: If your doctor orders COVID-19 testing before you have a medical procedure UMass Memorial Health, our Physician-Ordered Testing page can help you learn how to get this type of test For results, call your primary care provider or ordering physician, or check your myChart patient portal.
If I am tested for COVID-19 at UMass Memorial Health, how can I access my digital COVID-19 test results?
You can access your digital COVID-19 test results through the MyChart patient portal or on the MyChart app or contact your ordering provider.
What if I test positive for COVID-19?
Keep track of your symptoms. Symptoms can vary.
- If you are asymptotic or experiencing mild symptoms: Stay home to slow the spread, and self-isolate at home to protect your family. Be sure everyone is following CDC prevention practices like mask-wearing, cough covering and hand washing. Be sure to get plenty of fluids, stay hydrated, and get lots of rest. Check in with your provider regarding treatment.
- If you have moderate symptoms: Self-isolate at home, and call your doctor/provider (or an urgent care center) to discuss treatment options.
- If you have severe symptoms and are experiencing a medical emergency: Call 9-1-1.
What does it mean if I have a negative COVID-19 test result?
A negative test result means that you probably were not infected with COVID-19 at the time your sample was collected. You should continue taking steps to protect yourself from COVID-19, including wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing and getting vaccinated. If you test early, you may not yet have enough virus in your body to test positive, so consider retesting later.