Updated 5/24/23

Testing is one critical tool to utilize in this new surge of the pandemic. Learn more about COVID tests, your options for testing in Massachusetts, and steps to take if you test positive.

Don't forget about preventive measures to keep you and your community safe.

When to take a COVID test? Regardless of vaccination status, take a test if you are experiencing covid symptoms or 5 days after close contact with someone who tested positive.


There’s 2 main types of COVID tests: 

  1. The Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is a molecular test and generally the most accurate testing option. It’s done at a testing site or physician’s office. Results are usually ready in 1-3 days. Testing is free. 
  2. The antigen test (often referred to as a "rapid test" or "home test") analyzes for the protein in the virus. Efficacy is strongest when the person’s viral load is high. It can be purchased over the counter and completed at home. Results are ready in 15 minutes. 

Learn more about COVID Testing at Mass.gov

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Where to get Tested

Tests are available at pharmacies, retailers, and various healthcare locations. 

PCR Tests: 

  • Use the CDC search tool to find a PCR testing site. Most insurance companies will cover COVID-19 testing administered for health reasons (like having symptoms or being a close contact of someone with COVID) at no additional cost to you. However, some insurance companies will not pay for elective testing (like testing after travel or before visiting family).  Please contact your insurance provider if you have questions about your coverage.

Antigen (at-home) Tests: 

  • Contact your insurer to see what will be covered. 


what to do if exposed or test positive

When to take an at-home COVID test decision tree

If you test positive and have symptoms, follow the guidance from the MA Department of Public Health and CDC so you don't spread the virus:

  • Notify your doctor and inquire about therapeutic treatments, which can keep you from getting severely ill. They're safe, effective, and free - no insurance needed. 
  • For those who can wear a mask: Isolate at home for 5 days and refrain from leaving unless there's an emergency. Wear a mask if you come into contact with others in your home. Make sure you are fever-free for 24 hours before ending isolation. Wear a mask for an additional 5 days post-isolation. 
  • For those who cannot mask: Isolate for 10 days. 
  • Social distance from others and avoid people who are at high risk of infection.
  • Take care of yourself - get lots of rest and drink lots of water.
  • Monitor your symptoms.
  • Wash your hands and wipe down surfaces.
  • Notify anyone who you might have come into contact with 3 days prior.

Seek emergency care if you have:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone