Testing for COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Accessing Testing Kits

Where can I get a COVID-19 test?

Please try the following options:

  1. While supplies last, order free testing kits from Say Yes! COVID Test (Say Yes! COVID Test en Español). Limit two orders per household, per month.
  2. Order a free testing kit from the Federal program at CovidTests.gov. Limit one order per household.
  3. Purchase an at-home test at local retailers and pharmacies.
  4. If you have health insurance, most insurers will now pay you back for up to 8 at-⁠home tests per month, for each person on your plan. Learn more.
  5. Get a test at a testing location near you.

If you need help finding a testing site near you, check with your local health department or district (in English). You may also call 1-800-525-0127 then press # (press 7 for Spanish), language assistance available.

I don't have internet access / The website isn't available in my language. How do I order a free kit in WA?

Please call 1-800-525-0127 then press # (press 7 for Spanish), language assistance available. The call center can order on your behalf through the WA and federal online portals.

What do I need to know about the Say Yes! COVID Test online portal?

This program is a cooperative effort between the State of Washington, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While supplies last, people across Washington can order two rapid COVID-19 test kits, delivered directly to their home by Amazon.

Only two orders can be made per household/residential address, per month, and each order comes with 5 rapid tests. All orders and shipping are free.

For questions related to the test itself or how to perform it, visit the Say Yes! COVID Test Digital Assistant or call 1-833-784-2588.

Can you order both the Say YES! COVID Test from DOH and the Federal testing kit?

Yes, if you live in the state of Washington, you can place orders at both the Say YES! COVID test website and at the Federal website to receive at-home rapid COVID-19 test kits.

Where can I go if I have more questions?

If you have more questions about the DOH Say Yes! COVID Test program, visit the Frequently Asked Questions page or call the DOH COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-525-0127 (language assistance available). For questions about the Federal testing program, visit their Frequently Asked Questions page.

When will I receive my free tests?

Tests requested through either program (Say YES! COVID Test or Federal Program) will usually ship within 1-2 weeks of ordering.

After following all of the recommended testing options, I still can't find a test anywhere. What do I do if I think I have COVID-19?

Sorry you are having a difficult time locating a COVID-19 test, we know supply is currently limited nationwide.

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19 and are concerned you may be infected, we recommend the following:

There are more than four people in my household. How can I access tests for all members of the family?
  • You can access a testing kit (includes up to 5 tests) through Washington’s Say YES! COVID Test.
  • You can access an additional testing kit (includes 4 tests) from the Federal program at COVIDtests.gov.
  • You can purchase additional at-home tests at local or online retailers and pharmacies.
  • You can get a PCR test at a testing location near you. Find one here.
How do I use my testing kit?

It’s important to follow the instructions inside the kit of rapid at-home tests for the most accurate results. Contact the test manufacturer (their info will be located on the box) with any specific questions.

False negatives can occur with rapid tests. Some testing kits may include two tests (you should follow the instructions on the box for when to test).

General

Who should 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.
What happens if I test positive?

Follow the latest CDC and DOH guidance and isolate at home, away from others. All close contacts should quarantine.

  • Everyone who has presumed or confirmed COVID-19 should stay home and isolate from other people for at least 5 full days (day 0 is the first day of symptoms or the date of the day of the positive viral test for asymptomatic persons). They should wear a mask when around others at home and in public for an additional 5 days.
  • If an individual has access to a test and wants to test, the best approach is to use an antigen test towards the end of the 5-day isolation period. Collect the test sample only if you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and your other symptoms have improved (loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation).
    • If your test result is positive, you should continue to isolate until day 10.
    • If your test result is negative, you can end isolation, but continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others at home and in public until day 10.

To report a positive at-home COVID-19 test result and access care services, please call the Washington State COVID Hotline at 1-800-525-0127. Language assistance is available.

If you already have WA Notify downloaded or enabled on your smartphone, you can use this tool to report a positive test result too.

Further information can be found here: What to do if you test positive.

After being exposed, when will a person test positive?

Once a person is infected with COVID-19, the PCR test may not show the presence of the virus for five days after exposure. So you could have it, but the test may not show it for a while. Timing is key for getting a positive test result. If you have been potentially exposed to COVID-19 but are not sick, it is best to get tested at least 5 days after the last potential exposure. Antigen tests generally are most accurate when people have symptoms but can be used for people without symptoms in some circumstances.

How long do results take?

It depends on the type of test, and where the sample is sent for testing. The results for antigen tests can come back in as quickly as 10 minutes. For PCR tests, it can take several days.

Which test is best to take?

The best test is the first one that’s available to you. That means if you have an at-home test on hand, go with that. If you see an available appointment for a testing site, snag it. One exception is when a specific test is required for a scenario (for instance travel). 

Should I stock up on tests?

It’s a good idea to have a few tests on hand. Order tests as they are available through government websites. If you’re out shopping and see tests available, purchase a few. But be a good neighbor and use your best judgement. Hoarding a bunch of tests blocks access for others who may be in need and you risk having tests expire before you are able to use them.