COVID-19 Testing Questions Answered

Rochester Regional Health Immediate Care locations accept walk-in evaluations for COVID-19, including possible PCR and rapid testing options.

Apr. 19, 2021 5   min read

Getting tested for COVID-19 is the only way to confirm whether you are infected with the coronavirus. Since there are lots of questions surrounding COVID-19 testing, like where can you get tested, who can get a test, and how much does it cost, we’ve put together this COVID-19 testing FAQ guide to help answer your questions.

Getting tested for COVID-19 is the only way to confirm whether you are infected with the coronavirus. Thankfully we have come a long way with COVID-19 testing since the start of the pandemic in 2020, so the number of types of tests are more widely available. To help with questions about what type of test to get, where to go for testing, the cost of a test, and others, we’ve put together this COVID-19 testing FAQ guide.

What should I do if I have symptoms of COVID-19?

The symptoms of the COVID-19 virus are similar to other viruses that spread in the colder months – including flu, RSV, and the common cold.

Some of those symptoms include:

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Body aches
  • Low-grade fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea

If you are experiencing one or several of these symptoms, you should stay home from work, school, or other public places – just in case you end up testing positive for the virus. Call your primary care provider or schedule an appointment for testing. You can also call the NYS COVID-19 hotline at (888) 364-3065 for assistance.

Your primary care provider will set up a time to see you in person or via telemedicine before scheduling you for a COVID-19 test.

How can I get a COVID-19 test?

Whether you are symptomatic, have had an exposure to COVID-19, or need a COVID-19 test for any reason, there are a variety of ways to get tested.

For those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, it is recommended that you contact your primary care provider. They can evaluate your symptoms and test you for COVID-19, while continuing to monitor your health after your visit.

For those who were exposed to a COVID-positive person but are asymptomatic, you should still contact your primary care provider. There are plenty of options for where you can obtain a COVID-19 test. Pharmacies now offer testing, with test results coming within 5 days. Immediate Care locations and Primary Care offices with Rochester Regional Health continue to offer testing and typically provide results within 24 to 48 hours.

You may choose to perform an at-home COVID-19 test. At-home COVID-19 tests can be found at most pharmacies and provide results within 15 minutes.

What type of COVID-19 test should I get?

Rapid test

There are at least 12 different types of FDA-approved rapid tests: rapid antigen tests (such as BD Veritor™, Abbott BinaxNOW™ and Celltrion DiaTrust) and rapid molecular tests (such as Abbott ID NOW™). You can refer to the list of FDA-approved rapid antigen and molecular tests. Turnaround time for results is approximately 15-20 minutes on average. The rapid test can be performed in the comfort of your own home, at a clinic, pharmacy, doctor’s office, urgent care, community setting, or hospital. Rapid tests are less sensitive than PCR tests but are often sufficient under most circumstances; rapid tests are also less expensive.

PCR test

The PCR test is considered the gold standard and most sensitive COVID-19 test. It detects genetic material (RNA) specific to the virus and can detect the virus within days of infection, even in people who are asymptomatic. Turnaround time is generally between 24-48 hours at Rochester Regional Health locations, but results may vary depending on how much volume a location is experiencing. Sample collection for the PCR test can be done.

Where can I get tested for COVID-19? 

There are a wide variety of locations that now provide COVID-19 testing, including pharmacies, immediate care locations, and primary care offices. The New York State Department of Health has an online search tool to find a COVID-19 testing location near you.

For those looking specifically for rapid testing, Monroe County has several locations that offer free rapid testing.

Who can receive a COVID-19 test?

There are no restrictions on who can and cannot receive a COVID-19 test. Children and adults can undergo testing.

If you are experiencing symptoms or have been exposed to a person who tested positive for COVID-19, there are a number of locations you can go for a test. Your primary care provider, pediatrician’s office, and Rochester Regional Health Immediate Care locations will often allow you to come in for a visit and do testing as needed. Pharmacies, urgent cares, and community clinics also offer testing.

More at-home COVID-19 test kits are available at local pharmacies; these can be self-administered at home and reported to your county health department.

If you are not experiencing symptoms (asymptomatic) and need to have a test administered for an event or travel, most pharmacies and urgent cares will allow you to schedule an appointment in advance to undergo testing. Read the health guidelines for your event or transportation company thoroughly; some companies or events require PCR test results and will not accept a rapid test result.

How much does a COVID-19 test cost?

Depending on the type of test and your reason for receiving one, the cost of a COVID-19 test varies.

At-home COVID-19 tests, which can be purchased at most pharmacies, typically cost between $10 and $40 for a kit. While some cost over $100, most are under $35.

Currently, Walgreens, Rite Aid, and CVS have free COVID-19 testing options. Walgreens offers PCR, rapid antigen, and rapid diagnostic COVID-19 tests for anyone ages 3 and older. Rite Aid offers drive-thru self-swab PCR testing for anyone age for and up. CVS provides Lab Test PCR and Rapid PCR COVID-19 testing to those ages 3 and older.

What do I do while waiting for my test results? 

Please stay at home and self-isolate while awaiting your test results. Limit your contact with people and pets, wear a face mask when around others at all times, disinfect frequently touched objects, and practice proper hand hygiene.

Follow these 5 steps to help stop the spread of the coronavirus:

  1. Hands- wash them often, for at least 20 seconds
  2. Elbow- cough into it, not your hands
  3. Face- don’t touch it
  4. Space- keep a safe, 6-foot distance between yourself and others
  5. Stay- home if you can, especially if you may be sick

How long does it take to get test results?

If your test is done at a Rochester Regional Health location, you will receive your test results within 24-48 hours. Other locations such as CVS, Walgreens, or large-scale urgent cares may take as long as 5-7 days for a result. Be sure to provide accurate contact information when registering for your COVID-19 test so you can be contacted promptly with your results.

The amount of time between taking a test and receiving the results depends on the test and where the patient is getting the test. For an accurate timeline, check with the testing location on what to expect.

When testing is performed by Rochester Regional Health, signing up for our MyCare patient portal allows patients to have immediate access to their own test results as soon as they are available.

If I test positive for COVID-19, what happens?

If you test positive for COVID-19, isolate at home. You will be contacted by your local health department with information on how long to isolate. Limit your contact with other members of your household, stay home, and follow all instructions provided by the health department.

If you test positive after a visit with a Rochester Regional Health primary care provider, you will be monitored or offered monitoring through the duration of your illness.

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