Do you need Covid 19 testing? Where should you get a test? Which type of test is best? You have questions about Covid tests—and you need answers. If you're not sure where, when, or why to get a test, take a look at some of the top questions about this type of diagnostic service answered.
Why Might You Need a Test?
The sudden onset of symptoms is an obvious answer to this question. But it's not the only reason why you may need this type of diagnostic test. The most common reasons for seeking a Covid 19 testing service include:
Illness or Covid-like symptoms. There are a wide range of Covid symptoms that may require testing. These include a cough, shortness of breath, muscle and body aches, fever, fatigue, headache, loss of smell or taste, sore throat, GI symptoms, or chills.
Exposure. Have you had close contact with someone who has Covid? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), unvaccinated individuals should get tested right away and five to seven days after exposure (if the initial test is negative). Fully vaccinated people should get tested five to seven days after exposure.
Proof of a negative test. You may also need proof of a negative test for your employer, your child's school (if they were exposed), or to attend an event. This type of testing doesn't require symptoms or exposure. Instead, it's done as a preventative measure to reduce the spread of disease.
The type of test you need and the timing of the test depend on the reason. Again, the CDC recommends testing times for people who were exposed and are either unvaccinated or fully vaccinated. Likewise, you may need a test within a set timeframe for an event or you may need a specific test (rapid or PCR).
Where Can You Get a Test?
The answer to this question depends on what type of test you need and where you live. Some doctor's offices and urgent care clinics carry rapid or PCR tests. Many local areas (such as counties or cities) also have larger mass testing sites. These may include walk-in, appointment-only, or drive-through testing options.
Which Test Should You Get?
Talk to your medical provider or the person who has requested the test (if you need proof of a negative test for your job, school, or an event). You may need a PCR test if you have symptoms and the doctor feels a rapid test (or negative rapid results) was not accurate. Some employers, schools, or events may also require a more accurate PCR test. A PCR test that is sent to a lab will take longer to come back than the rapid version. If you need results for an event, travel, or another occasion, plan your testing time accordingly.