Testing for COVID-19

 

Why Get Tested

Testing saves lives. Testing allows people to take precautions, like quarantining, in a timely manner to stop the virus from spreading; infected people without symptoms can still spread the virus. Testing also helps public health officials identify and respond to outbreaks, and to track new variants of the virus. Testing is an important component in helping resume normal activities.

When to Get Tested

  • Test when you feel sick. COVID-19 has a wide range of symptoms, so if you’re not feeling well, it’s best to get tested as soon as possible.
  • Test when you’ve been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Get tested immediately if you’re showing symptoms. If you’re not showing symptoms, wait five days after the exposure and then test.
  • Businesses and event spaces in Washington may have testing and/or vaccination requirements before entering an establishment or event. Call ahead or check their website before you visit.
  • You may need to test before and/or after traveling. Check the CDC’s latest travel guidance.
  • When you’re going to gather with a group of people, especially those who are at risk of severe disease or may not be up to date on their COVID-⁠19 vaccines.

Where to Get Tested

The WA State Department of Health website maintains a directory of testing sites available in each county, with operating hours and requirements. For additional information on testing sites, call 2-1-1. Over the counter test kits are also available for ordering and in pharmacies for convenient, at-home testing.

Types of Tests

The current tests available include rapid antigen tests, molecular tests (both lab-based and point of care), and some home self-tests. Supply of any particular test varies according to demand and manufacturer capacity.

Cost

  • Insurance providers will now reimburse families for up to eight tests per month. Learn more about insurance reimbursement.
  • There are no out of pocket cost for tests performed at county or state-supported test sites. Many tests, particularly for people experiencing symptoms, can be billed to insurance or subsidized by the Department of Health.
  • You can also purchase an at-home test at local or online retailers and pharmacies. No insurance or prescription is required.

How To Take An At-Home Test

What To Do if You Think Your Tests Are Expired

Before you throw away your expired COVID-19 tests, be sure to check if the shelf life was extended. This one-page information sheet has expiration details by test type, as well as helpful information on quality controls to ensure the test is working properly. You can expect the tests to continue to receive expiration date extensions as additional performance data is tracked by the FDA.

When to Quarantine or Isolate

You may need to quarantine or isolate prior to taking your test and after receiving your results. This will depend on your vaccination status and whether you’re showing symptoms. The latest CDC guidance breaks this down by scenario. You can also follow our guide for people who are symptomatic and/or exposed to COVID-19.

Follow-Up

Stay home as much as possible if you have symptoms. If you test positive for COVID-19, the good news is there are steps you can take to help keep yourself and others safe. Further information can be found here: What to do if you test positive.

Treatment Resources