Getting tested for COVID-19 is critical because 1 in 4 people with COVID-19 do not show any symptoms, meaning some infected people do not know they are sick and can continue to spread the disease. In order to get proper treatment and protect others from infection, get tested for COVID-19 if you:
Have COVID-19 symptoms
Including a dry cough, difficulty breathing, fever, and body aches
HAD CONTACT WITH A CONFIRMED CASE
Had close contact (within six feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more) with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
HAVE A REFERRAL
Have been asked or referred to get tested by your healthcare provider.
Harris County Public Health provides FREE COVID-19 testing at multiple locations across the county. No insurance or proof of residency is required for free testing. Visit the county’s testing information page to view testing locations and sign up for a free COVID-19 test.
There are two kinds of tests are available for COVID-19: viral tests and antibody tests.
They tell you if you have a current infection.
They might tell you if you had a past infection.
Also known as antigen tests, detect protein fragments specific to the coronavirus. Test results are typically available the same day.
Detect genetic material that is specific to the virus. These tests require lab analysis that can take days. However, PCR tests are significantly more accurate than rapid tests. Only PCR testing is offered for free by Harris County Public Health.
WHAT TO DO AFTER GETTING TESTED.
While you wait for your test results, be certain to observe the following practices to reduce the risk of spreading the disease:
- Wear a face covering.
- Maintain six feet of distance from others.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- If soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.