Using At-Home COVID-19 Test Kits
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The Coastal Health District has free at-home COVID-19 test kits available at each of our county health departments and CARE centers in Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, and McIntosh Counties.
The tests, also called over-the-counter tests or self-tests, can be taken anywhere, and work whether or not you have symptoms. These rapid antigen tests give results in just a few minutes and do not need to be dropped off at a laboratory.
To get a free at-home test kit, visit one of the local county health departments or CARE centers in the 8-county Coastal Health District and request a test kit. Each individual can receive up to 10 free tests. You do not have to provide health insurance information and no ID checks are required.
When To Use a Self-Test Kit
- Use the kit right away if you have symptoms of COVID-19.
- If you were exposed to someone with COVID-19, test at least 5 days after your exposure. If you test negative, consider testing again 1 to 2 days after your first test.
- If you’re going to an indoor event or gathering, consider testing right before the event. This is especially important before gathering with individuals at risk of severe disease, older adults, those who are immunocompromised, or people who are not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines, including children who cannot get vaccinated yet.
How To Use a Self-Test Kit
Each test kit will come with instructions for collecting and testing a nasal specimen. If you do not follow the manufacturers instructions, the test result may be incorrect. The following video demonstrates the basics of self-testing.
Need More Information? Find videos of manufacturer instructions for your specific self-test.
What Your Test Results Mean
If your test is positive, that means the test detected the virus and you have an infection.
- Stay home for at least 5 days and isolate from others in your home.
- Tell your close contacts so they can take precautions.
- Wear a well-fitted mask when around others. If available, a N95 or KN95 respirator is recommended.
- Watch for symptoms. If you have any emergency warning signs, seek emergency care immediately.
You should also tell your healthcare provider as soon as possible if:
- Your symptoms get worse.
- You are more likely to get very sick because you are an older adult or have an underlying medical condition. Possible treatment may be available for you.
- You have questions about your isolation.
If your test is negative, that means the test did not detect the virus, but doesn’t rule out an infection.
Some self-tests are designed to be used in a series (also known as serial testing). Consider repeating the test 24 to 48 hours later. Multiple negative tests increases the confidence that you are not infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.
Visit the website of the CDC for more information about self-testing.