Updated March 29, 2022
At-home tests are available over the counter at many local pharmacies, drug stores, and grocery stores. They are also available by mail from online retailers. If you have insurance, it may cover the cost of at-home COVID testing.
Some tests require that samples be mailed in and provide results in 24-48 hours. “Instant” or “rapid” tests provide results in about 15 minutes.
Read instructions carefully
Each home test kit comes with its own instructions. Use the instructions that came with your test. If you do not follow the instructions carefully, you may not get accurate results.
For the most accurate results, you should test 5 days after a COVID exposure or within the first few days after you first feel sick or have symptoms.
If you test positive
If you have a positive result, assume you are contagious to other people. Stay home to avoid spreading it to others. Find out more about what to do if you test positive.
If your job includes interaction with the public, you should tell your employer so you can help limit the spread of COVID-19. You are not currently required to report a positive result from an at-home test to the local or state Health Authority.
If you would like to you can fill out an optional survey on Oregon Health Authority’s Positive COVID Test website or call their Case Support Hotline at 866-917-8881.
If you test negative
If you feel sick you should stay home and away from others until your symptoms improve, even if your test is negative.
If you have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19, you were exposed to the virus and could still get others sick. Unless you live or work in some high-risk settings, like healthcare or certain group living facilities, you do not need to quarantine.
- Watch yourself for symptoms for 10 days since your last exposure. Consider where you will be and who you will be around. You can continue to protect people at high risk for severe COVID-19 by limiting your in-person contact or wearing a mask around them for those 10 days.
- You may seek another COVID-19 test through your regular healthcare provider or take another home test 1-2 days later.
Who should take an at-home test?
Access to testing kits can be limited, especially if there is a lot of disease in the community. If you have a limited number of tests in your household, use the test kits first for
- People who have been sick for at least 2 or 3 days and no more than 7 days. If they test positive, other sick people in the house probably also have COVID-19. Everyone in the household should stay home and away from others. Even if they don’t feel sick, everyone should follow quarantine guidelines.
- Anybody who may be at risk for more serious illness, including older adults and people with underlying conditions.
We do not recommend using home tests
- Before going to a party or gathering. Tests are not prevention. It is best to keep the gathering small, keep your mask on, and make sure you and other guests feel well.
- On the first day that you feel mildly sick. If you still have symptoms on the second or third day, that is a better time to use the test.
- For pre-travel. Most pre-travel testing requires a PCR test that you have to get at a clinic or testing site.
Healthcare, schools, long-term care facilities, and certain other workplaces might have different recommendations about when to test.
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