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How to Get Tested for COVID-19

COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing

If you suspect that you (or a member of your family) have COVID-19, see below for testing types and options. If you are experiencing severe symptoms such as trouble breathing, you should call 911, call your local ambulance service, or visit an emergency department in your community for immediate care.

Visit our COVID-19 coverage for members page for more information about the cost of diagnostic COVID-19 testing based on your coverage type.

Testing Types

There are two types of diagnostic viral tests for COVID-19, molecular and antigen tests.

Antigen tests usually produce results in under an hour. Antigen tests are called rapid tests, self-tests, point-of-care (POC) tests, instant tests, etc.

Molecular tests can take days to produce results. Molecular tests are called RNA or PCR tests.

For both types of tests, a swab from your nose or throat will be collected.

Other tests called Antibody tests look for evidence of past infection and are generally not considered to be “diagnostic” in nature.

These tests are normally only used in rare circumstances because they cannot tell you whether you have a current infection. They also cannot be used to indicate that you are immune to COVID-19, cannot tell you your “level” of any immunity, and may or may not even detect antibodies you do have (your body can produce more than one type, but some tests only look for a specific antibody). The CDC does not recommend antibody tests to detect current infection, determine immunity, determine whether you need a vaccine or a booster, or tell you whether you need to quarantine following an exposure. If you are offered an antibody test by a lab, drive-through site, or anyone other than a treating provider, you should ask why the antibody test is being recommended for you and whether it is being ordered in accordance with current CDC guidelines.

Additional information regarding testing types can be found on the CDC website.

Testing Options

COVID-19 Self-Tests

COVID-19 self-tests are home tests that can be purchased over-the-counter (OTC), are self-administered, and self-read. They are also called OTC, rapid, or rapid antigen tests. Additional information regarding self-testing can be found on the CDC website.

The Federal Government launched a new website, covidtests.gov, that will ship COVID-19 self-tests directly to your home for free. You do not need to submit anything to UPMC to access this option because it is provided directly by the federal government.

Some UPMC Health Plan members are eligible to submit for reimbursement after purchasing COVID-19 self-tests from retailers. If you are a member and would like to see if you can request a reimbursement for a COVID-19 self-test visit the COVID-19 coverage for members webpage and select your coverage type from the drop-down menu.

Call Your Provider's Office

Your primary care provider (PCP) can tell you what to do next and give you instructions and a referral if you need to be tested. The provider who gives you a referral to be tested will typically direct you to the appropriate testing location. Some members may be directed to UPMC collection and testing sites, while others may be tested or processed at non-UPMC locations. In some cases, your testing site may be determined by a laboratory testing provider (e.g., Quest Diagnostics or LabCorp) and you will need to schedule testing with them directly. Most collection and testing sites require appointments.

Some providers also offer virtual visits so you can receive care and consultation from home.

Find a Provider

Use UPMC AnywhereCare

UPMC AnywhereCare allows you to have a virtual visit with a provider from your smartphone, tablet, or computer.* If your provider feels you need to be tested for COVID-19, you will be directed to the next steps.

Visit UPMC AnywhereCare

UPMC Urgent Care COVID-19 Testing

COVID-19 testing is now available at select UPMC Urgent Care locations for symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals who have a medical referral or order for a COVID-19 test. UPMC Urgent Care locations are not open for walk-in testing. UPMC Urgent Care staff can administer a COVID-19 test while you are in your vehicle or safely inside the office.

If you do not have a medical referral or formal order, you can request a COVID-19 evaluation from a UPMC Urgent Care provider. Based on the outcome of that evaluation, the provider may order a COVID-19 test.

UPMC Urgent Care locations offering COVID-19 testing

UPMC Testing Sites

UPMC testing sites are not open for walk-in testing. Patients need a physician order or an appointment with the collection center.

UPMC testing site locations

Non-UPMC Testing Sites

There are many options outside of UPMC where COVID testing is available, such as pharmacies, laboratory testing providers (e.g., Quest Diagnostics or LabCorp), PA state public testing, etc. Most collection and testing sites require appointments.

Self-isolate until you receive your results

The time to receive results varies based on collection site and volume. If you are being tested at a UPMC site, the UPMC provider who orders your test will call you with the results. If another provider orders your testing at UPMC, a central UPMC COVID-19 team will contact you. Other providers or testing sites may have different procedures. If you are unsure about how you will get results, you should contact the provider that ordered your test.

* UPMC Health Plan members located in Pennsylvania at the time of virtual visit may select a UPMC-employed provider or a provider from Online Care Network II, P.C. (OCN), subject to availability and discretion of the provider. Members located outside of Pennsylvania will receive service from OCN. OCN is not an affiliate of UPMC. Limitations may apply for members of ASO plans that have opted out of coverage.

Your wait time for UPMC AnywhereCare may be longer than usual due to increased call volume. If there is a wait, you can stay in the virtual waiting room or choose "text me when the provider is available."

If you have questions about your coverage, see your plan documents or contact a health care concierge for the most up-to-date information regarding your benefits.