Updated 3/25/24


Tests can help you find out if you are currently infected with a certain respiratory virus. While testing doesn’t change how likely you are to catch or spread respiratory viruses, or how severe your illness might be, it can provide useful information to help you make prevention or treatment choices.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. 
  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. 

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If you test positive for COVID-19

Stay home if you are sick. You may resume daily activities when you meet both of the following criteria:

  1. Fever-free for at least 24 hours (without the aid of medications)
  2. Symptoms are improving.

Once you resume normal activities, it’s important to take additional prevention strategies for the next 5 days to curb disease spread:

Learn more from the MA Department of Public Health.