Test for Current Infection (Viral Test)
Who should get tested
- People who have symptoms of COVID-19.
- Most people who have had close contact (within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) with someone with confirmed COVID-19.
- Fully vaccinated people with no COVID-19 symptoms do not need to be tested following an exposure to someone with COVID-19.
- People who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 3 months and recovered do not need to get tested following an exposure as long as they do not develop new symptoms.
- People who have taken part in activities that put them at higher risk for COVID-19 because they cannot physically distance as needed, such as travel, attending large social or mass gatherings, or being in crowded indoor settings.
- People who have been asked or referred to get testing by their healthcare provider, state, tribal, localexternal icon, or territorial health department.
Viral tests are used to look for current infection
A viral test checks specimens from your nose or your mouth to find out if you are currently infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Viral tests can be performed in a laboratory, at a testing site (such as a public health clinic or doctor’s office), or at home. Two types of viral tests can be used: nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) and antigen tests.
How to get a viral test
- You can visit your state, tribal, localexternal icon, and territorial health department’s website to look for the latest local information on testing.
- Both types of viral tests are available from a healthcare or public health provider, for at-home use, or for at home self-collection of specimens.
- You and your healthcare provider might consider either an at-home collection kit or an at-home test if you have signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and can’t get tested by a healthcare provider.
What to do after a viral test
- If you test positive for COVID-19, know what protective steps to take if you are sick.
- Most people have mild COVID-19 illness and can recover at home without medical care. Contact your healthcare provider if your symptoms get worse or if you have questions about your health.
- If you test negative for COVID-19, you probably were not infected at the time your sample was collected. This does not mean you will not get sick:
- A negative test result only means that you did not have COVID-19 at the time of testing or that your sample was collected too early in your infection.
- You could also be exposed to COVID-19 after the test and then get infected and spread the virus to others.
- If you have symptoms later, you may need another test to determine if you are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.
To get your test result, please check with the group that performed your test, such as your healthcare provider or health department. How long it will take to get your test results depends on the test used. If you used an at-home test, follow the guidance above.
Take steps to protect yourself
Whether you test positive or negative for COVID-19, you should take preventive measures to protect yourself and others.