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​Coronavirus Symptoms & Testing


People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness.
These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

Symptom Checker

Use the CDC online tool to help you make decisions and seek appropriate medical care.

Additionally, when you download the COVID Alert PA app, you can input how you are feeling each day and reporting if you are experiencing symptoms. This will help when asked when your symptoms have started if you later test positive for COVID-19.

I Have Symptoms. Now What?

    • If they're mild: Most people who have mild symptoms can recover at home without medical care. If you'd like to get tested for a diagnosis, contact your healthcare provider or schedule an appointment at a publicly accessible testing site. Find a testing site in Pennsylvania. If you do not want to get tested, it's still important to stay home, isolate and avoid contact with others, rest, and drink fluids. If you feel worse, call your health care provider. 
    • If they're severe: For severe symptoms (including a fever above 100°), call your health care provider. If you don't have a health care provider, call the nearest hospital or urgent care to schedule an appointment.
    • If it's an emergency: Call 911. Emergency warning signs can include:
      • Trouble breathing
      • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
      • New confusion
      • Inability to wake or stay awake
      • Bluish lips or face

I Don't Have Symptoms, But I’ve Been Exposed or Possibly Exposed to an Infected Person. Now What?

    • Individuals who have been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case should be tested regardless of the presence of symptoms. Close contacts are people who have been within 6 feet of a person with a confirmed COVID-19 infection for at least 15 minutes. You will need to quarantine for 10 days after your last exposure to an infected person or a 7 day quarantine with a negative test on or after day 5 of quarantine.

I Was Tested. Now What?


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 testing priorities.
  • 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 Tests

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.

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.

You can also view the AMI public testing sites that are being held in five regions across PA.

Having difficulty viewing on your phone or tablet? View the mobile version of the testing map.

Questions? Call 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258)

Updated: 12/15/2020