Testing for COVID-19

Why Get Tested

Testing saves lives. Testing can help identify the cause of your illness, allowing you to receive appropriate treatment, if eligible, and take necessary precautions to keep the virus from spreading. Infected people without symptoms can still spread the virus. 

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. See What to Do When You Are Sick With COVID-19 or Another Respiratory Virus for information on what to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Testing can be helpful after you’ve been exposed to someone who has symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19. See U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) guidance for more information about the risk of false-negative test results and how to use repeat testing after exposure. 
  • Consider getting tested before gathering with others, particularly if you’ll be around people at high risk of severe illness/disease. Note, false negatives are possible; false positives are uncommon.

Who Can Be Tested?

Anyone can get tested for COVID-19, no matter their age. At this time, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved or authorized any at-home COVID_19 rapid antigen test for use in children under two years of age. However, at-home rapid antigen tests may be safely used in children under two after being exposed, if they are experiencing symptoms, or to identify COVID-19 infection to begin isolation. DOH recommends parents or guardians deciding to test children under age two administer the at-home rapid antigen test themselves.

Because the FDA has not approved or authorized at-home COVID-19 rapid antigen tests for use in children under two years, K-12 schools and child-care facilities with a waived medical test site license are not permitted to perform these tests. However, K-12 schools and child-care facilities may provide at-home rapid antigen tests to parents or caregivers for use on children under two years.

For specific instructions on testing children, please refer to the user guide included with the test kit. For example, iHealth instructions state: “With children, the maximum depth of insertion into the nostril may be less than 3/4 of an inch, and you may need to have a second person to hold the child’s head while swabbing.”

Where to Get Tested

Contact your healthcare provider or local pharmacy to inquire about their testing services. can also check with your local health department or district. For additional information on testing sites, call the Department of Health (DOH) information line: 1-800-525-0127. Language assistance is available.

  • Over-the-counter test kits are available to purchase from online retailers and in pharmacies for convenient, at-home testing.
  • DOH has set up testing kiosks across Washington that provide free COVID-19 tests. Find a location near you

Types of Tests

The two main types of tests available to detect current COVID-19 infection are rapid antigen tests and molecular Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests. See COVID-19 Testing: What You Need to Know (CDC) for more information. 

Visit the FDA website to view information on authorized at-home COVID-19 diagnostic tests, including those with expired dates.


  • COVID-19 tests are free through state-supported testing programs and at DOH COVID-19 testing kiosks.
  • Medicaid insurance covers at-home COVID-19 tests through September 2024. See Apple Health at-home testing FAQ (wa.gov) to find out how to receive a test at no cost.
  • Federal law no longer requires most insurance providers to cover COVID-19 testing. Check with your health plan for specific coverage details, as policies may vary. See Coverage for COVID-19 Tests (cms.gov) for more information.   
  • At-home tests may also be purchased at local or online retailers and pharmacies. No insurance or prescription is required.

How to Take an At-Home Test

  • It’s important to follow the instructions included with at-home test kits for the most accurate results. Several brands also offer video instructions. 

What To Do if You Think Your Tests Are Expired

Before you throw away your expired COVID-19 tests, check if its shelf life was extended. Our COVID-19 Expired Test Kit Guidance answers important questions about COVID-19 tests and shelf-life extensions. You can expect COVID-19 tests to continue to receive expiration date extensions as additional performance data is tracked by the FDA.

Follow Up

If you have COVID-19 symptoms or test positive, follow DOH guidance What to Do When You Are Sick With COVID-19 or Another Respiratory Virus.

Treatment Resources

Testing for COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions 

Which test is best to take?

For guidance on selecting the appropriate test for your situation, consult the CDC's COVID-19 Testing Guidelines.

Do rapid antigen tests detect COVID-19 variants?

To date, the FDA has not found any commercially available rapid antigen tests that fail to detect SARS-CoV-2 variants.  
If you get a negative result on your at-home COVID-19 antigen test, it could be a false negative result. Follow the instructions included with the test kit for best results.