Testing is the most important way you can help control the spread of COVID-19. It’s easier than ever to get no-cost tests — and get your results quickly.
You wake up feeling sniffly, and your throat is scratchy. Is it the flu, a cold, or could it be COVID-19?
Taking a home antigen test is the quickest and easiest way to put your mind at ease and make sure, if you are infected, you’re not putting others at risk by spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.
“While vaccination remains the best way to combat severe illness from COVID-19, testing is the most important tool to prevent the spread of the virus right now,” said Craig Robbins, MD, physician co-lead for Kaiser Permanente’s national COVID-19 vaccination program. “Testing quickly identifies someone who is infected so they can stay home and prevent further transmission.”
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, PCR lab tests were almost always used to detect the virus. As antigen tests have become widely available, it's easier and faster to get test results at home.
In most cases, home antigen tests or self-tests — the kind sold over the counter — are your best option. You can use these tests when you:
Home antigen tests offer a quick result (in 30 minutes or less) and don’t require a trip to a medical facility. They are an easy way to find out whether you have COVID-19 and could infect others. If your test result is positive, stay home and isolate, and contact your doctor if you need guidance or support.
“Self-tests have been shown to provide accurate results, even against the virus’s many variants,” Dr. Robbins said.
There are a variety of ways to access this convenient testing option at no cost to you.
The federal government has restarted its program to deliver 4 free self-tests per household. Each residential household in the U.S. can order free tests, without shipping fees, by visiting www.covidtests.gov.
If you’re a Kaiser Permanente member, you can:
Or course, there are a few circumstances that may require an in-person PCR test.
For example, your doctor may tell you to get a PCR test before a medical procedure or hospital admission. You or a family member may also need to show a negative PCR test result before attending certain events or activities.
If you’re a Kaiser Permanente member, choosing Kaiser Permanente for your PCR test ensures that your test result gets added to your medical record. Your care team can then follow up with clinical guidance, if needed.
When you get a PCR test at a Kaiser Permanente facility, you’ll usually get your results in 1 to 2 days, often more quickly.
Visit kp.org/covidtests to learn how to schedule a PCR test near you.