Who Should Get Tested?
Priorities for testing in Pennsylvania include:
- Tier 1: Hospitalized individuals with COVID-19 symptoms
- Tier 2:
- All other individuals with COVID-19 symptoms
- Close contacts of confirmed cases who are asymptomatic
- Individuals who are asymptomatic (having no symptoms of COVID 19), who fall into one of the following categories contingent upon the disease prevalence rate in their community:
- Live in congregate care facilities
- Are health care workers who have frequent interactions with the public
- Work in congregate care facilities
- Provide care to an elderly person or person with a disability in the home
- Work in emergency services
- Work in child protective and adult protective services
- Work in a correctional facility
- Provide compassionate care and hospice services
- Are being discharged from a hospital to a lower level of care
- Tier 3: The following individuals who are asymptomatic and fall into one of the following categories contingent upon the disease prevalence rate in their community:
- Patients requiring pre-operative/pre-hospital admission screening
- Work in retail or manufacturing and have frequent interactions with the public
- Work in agricultural or food manufacturing and have frequent interactions with the public
- Work in public transportation and have frequent interactions with the public
- Work in education and have frequent interactions with students or the public
- Tier 4: Tier Four would be implemented when Pennsylvania's test results turnaround time, as monitored by the Department of Health, is less than 48 hours.
- Other individuals not specified above including those who are asymptomatic but believe they have a risk for being actively infected
- Routine testing by employers
- View more information about
- View the
testing strategy and metrics.
What are the Types of Tests?
1. Diagnostic Tests
Assesses the presence of the virus at a given point in time. A negative means only that an individual was negative at the time the test.
- Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Tests and Nucleic Acid Amplification Testing: Detects the RNA genetic material in the COVID-19 virus and are often collected via nasal pharyngeal; mid turbinate; nasal, oral or throat swab; or saliva collection.
- Antigen Tests: Not currently widely utilized. Detects the presence of COVID-19 specific protein particles and is collected via a respiratory sample.
2. Non-Diagnostic Tests
- Serology (Antibody) Tests: Detect antibodies in the blood indicating possible prior exposure to COVID-19, which may develop 6-14 days after infection.
Note: No test is perfect. There is a false negative rate and false positive rate that varies depending on the test and the collection modality. Accuracy of antigen tests may be problematic due to poor sensitivity.
Antigen test cards are a timely, quick and easy-to-use tool for communities to receive rapid COVID-19 testing. Antigen tests look for pieces of proteins that make up the SARS-CoV-2 virus. On Wednesday, October 14, the Department of Health began distributing rapid antigen test cards to Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-certified institutions across Pennsylvania by county.
- View the rapid antigen test fact sheet.
- View the SOH Order on Antigen Testing Reporting.
- Antigen test card distribution:
- Week 1 distribution list (Bradford, Centre, Lebanon, Montor, Northumberland, Schuylkill and Snyder counties)
- Week 2 distribution list (Berks, Huntingdon, Union and Westmoreland counties)
- Week 3 distribution list (Blair, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Tioga, Venango and Wyoming counties)
- Week 4 distribution list (Elk, Lawrence, Mifflin and Philadelphia counties)
- Week 5 distribution list (Armstrong, Dauphin, Delaware and Indiana counties)
- Week 6 distribution list (Bedford, Cambria, Franklin, Lancaster and Lehigh counties)
- Week 7 distribution list (Bucks, Juniata, Mercer and Somerset counties)
- Week 8 distribution list (Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Erie, Forest, Fulton and Jefferson counties)
- Week 9 distribution list (remaining 20 counties that have not yet received a shipment)
How Much Will a Test Cost?
Check with your insurance company. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act and CARES Act do not require an insurance company to pay for a test unless you have symptoms or a known or recent exposure to COVID-19 and it has been determined to be medically necessary for you by an attending healthcare provider.
Where Can I Get Tested?
Through the work of a number of entities, testing is accessible for Pennsylvanians. As entities such as pharmacies offer testing (some still require symptoms), more Pennsylvanians can get tested close to home.
While most COVID-19 tests are performed using a nasopharyngeal (NP) swab, many of the publicly accessible sites are using anterior nasal or nasal swabs that are less invasive. Where an NP swab is inserted deep enough to contact the nasopharynx at the back of the nasal cavity administered by a medical professional, a nasal swab is only inserted roughly 0.5 inches inside the nostril and can be self-administered. Both of these collection methods can be a bit uncomfortable, but neither should be painful.
Map of Testing Sites in Pennsylvania
Use the map below to find the closest testing site to you. Some sites are only testing their specific patients, while others are open to the general public, but you may still need to schedule an appointment. Click on the testing site on the map to see more details.