COVID Testing

Updated as of 3/23/2021

The best way to get tested is by calling your healthcare provider or conveniently ordering self-administered at-home tests. COVID-19 testing is also offered in many pharmacies and healthcare centers. If you don’t have a regular doctor or medical insurance, locate a community health center or visit any of the City of Chicago community-based testing sites. For a fee travelers and airport employees can also get tested at the O'Hare or Midway testing facilities.

Locate Community Health Center 

City of Chicago Community-based testing sites

Traveler testing

Full list of testing sites

Pediatric COVID-19 Testing Sites

At-home tests

Some private companies offer to send tests directly to your home so you can avoid having to visit a healthcare provider or testing site. These self-collected, at-home tests have been authorized by the FDA. Usually, you fill out a screening questionnaire and – if you are eligible – you will receive a kit with instructions on how to collect and return your sample. Some tests also include a telehealth consultation and results are usually available 1-3 days later. 

Some options are available for free, regardless of your insurance or documentation status. For example, the nose swab from Pixel by LabCorp will bill your health insurance or the federal government (if you are uninsured or undocumented) so you may pay nothing upfront, and health insurance companies are legally not allowed to pass the cost of your COVID-19 test on to you. With some other nasal swabs (like everywell or LetsGetChecked) and saliva options (like Vault or Vitagene), you may have to pay upfront and claim the money back from your insurance, though many are accepted by HSA and FSA plans. This is not an exhaustive list and CDPH does not necessary recommend any specific private company. 


  • At-home:Some private companies offer to send tests directly to your home so you can avoid having to visit a healthcare provider or testing site. These self-collected, at-home tests have been authorized by the FDA. Usually, you fill out a screening questionnaire and – if you are eligible – you will receive a kit with instructions on how to collect and return your sample. Some tests also include a telehealth consultation and results are usually available 1-3 days later. 
    Some options are available for free, regardless of your insurance or documentation status. For example, the nose swab fromPixel by LabCorpwill bill your health insurance or the federal government (if you are uninsured or undocumented) so you may pay nothing upfront, and health insurance companies are legally not allowed to pass the cost of your COVID-19 test on to you. With some other nasal swabs (likeeverywellorLetsGetChecked) and saliva options (likeVaultorVitagene), you may have to pay upfront and claim the money back from your insurance, though many are accepted by HSA and FSA plans. This is not an exhaustive list and CDPH does not necessary recommend any specific private company. 
  • Your health care provider: Residents are best served when they’re tested by their health care provider, because your health care provider is familiar with your medical history and can provide counselling that helps you understand exactly what your test result means. If you develop any symptoms or think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, call your doctor and ask if you need to be tested. Your doctor will either perform the test at their office or will refer you to a testing site. 
  • Community health centers: If you don’t have a health care provider or medical insurance, there are approximately 165 community health centers throughout Chicago, so find one that is close to you at hrsa.gov. No patient will be turned away because of inability to pay. Community health centers provide services regardless of patients’ immigration status and charge for services on a sliding fee scale. 
  • Testing Map: Use the City of Chicago’s interactive testing map to find a testing site near you. The map is updated frequently as locations are continuously added. Please note different testing sites might have different requirements. We recommend calling in advance or checking online first. For additional information, see the Illinois Department of Public Health list of testing sites. 
  • City of Chicago testing sites: You can visit one of the City’scommunity-based testing sites. All tests at the City testing sites are offered at no cost to all people regardless of citizenship or insurance status. To pre-register and schedule an appointment please go to: curative.com. 
  • Traveler testing: Doctors Test Centers, in connection with Simple Laboratories, now offers rapid and PCR testing at O'Hare and Midway airports. Airport testing is available for travelers and airport/CDA employees for a fee: The Rapid Antigen Test is $120.00, and patients will receive results in about 20 minutes. The PCR Test is $145.00, and patients will receive results in about 24-72 hours. Test recipients will need to show proof of flying (within 72 hours before their flight or five days after) or proof of airport employment. Please note these testing sites are not a part of CDPH's community-based testing sites.

Get tested if: 

  • You have symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever or chills, cough, difficulty breathing, sore throat, muscle or body aches, new loss of taste or smell, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea 
  • You have been in contact with someone who is ill, especially if it's someone you live with, a friend or ​acoworker 
  • You have recently participated in a high risk activity, such as attending a large gathering or crowded space 
  • Fully vaccinated people with no COVID-19 symptoms do not need to be tested following an exposure to someone with COVID-19.
  • People who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 3 months and recovered do not need to get tested following an exposure as long as they do not develop new symptoms.
  • If you have symptoms, get tested right away. Make an appointment in advance and make sure to stay 6 feet from others and wear a face mask. 
  • If you don’t have symptoms, get tested 5-9 days after your last contact with the sick person or since your last high-risk activity. 
COVID-19 Testing FAQs

No. Neither the recently authorized and recommended vaccines nor the other COVID-19 vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States can cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection.​

If your body develops an immune response—the goal of vaccination—there is a possibility you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.

You should get tested for COVID-19 if you have symptoms of possible COVID-19, you have been in contact with someone who is ill, you have been in a large gathering or if you have recently traveled to a high-risk area. CDPH community-based testing sites are intended for those most at risk of COVID-19, and not intended for people with no symptoms who are required to be regularly tested for work or travel.

While you wait for your test results you should stay home and avoid contact with others.

  • If you test positive for COVID-19, you most likely DO currently have an active COVID-19 infection and can give the virus to others. Stay home for 10 days after your symptoms first appeared and at least 24 hours with no fever (without using fever-reducing medications) and improved symptoms, whichever is longer. If at any time you develop severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, seek medical care right away and do not wait for results of your test.

    Be sure to tell all your close contacts they need to be in quarantine. The quarantine period should be at least 7 full days (with a negative test on/after day 5) or 10 days (if unable to test). The safest amount of time for everyone to quarantine is 14 days.
    You may receive a phone call from the City of Chicago’s contact tracers for a phone interview. The call will come from 312-74-COVID (312-742-6843). Please answer this phone call and provide as much detail as possible. Additional information can be found at chicago.gov/contactracing.

  • If you test negative for COVID-19, you most likely DO NOT currently have an active COVID-19 infection. However, even with a negative test result, if you have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19, you must complete a full quarantine period. The quarantine period should be at least 7 full days (with a negative test on/after day 5) or 10 days (if unable to get tested). A 14-day quarantine is the safest of the 3 options, and should be followed if able. Stay home, check your temperature twice a day and watch for symptoms of COVID-19. If you develop any new symptoms after testing, you should isolate, get another COVID-19 test, and get medical care as needed.
    If you are symptomatic but have a negative molecular test result for COVID-19, we recommend that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever has resolved without the use of fever- reducing medications and there is improvement in your symptoms.

Two kinds of tests are available for COVID-19: viral tests and antibody tests.

  • viral testtells you if you have a current infection.
  • An antibody testmight tell you if you had a past infection.

Several viral tests, including the Real-Time Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR), rapid point-of-care (POC) molecular tests, and the POC antigen test, have received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are recommended to diagnose current COVID-19 infection.

Antibody EUA - FDA tests are used to detect past COVID-19 infection. Antibody tests should not be used to diagnose a current COVID-19 infection. An antibody test may not show if you have a current COVID-19 infection because it can take 1–3 weeks after infection for your body to make antibodies.

Ask your medical provider about the type of test they provide to confirm viral tests are used to test for current COVID-19 infection.

Whether you test positive or negative for COVID-19, you should take preventive measures to protect yourself and others.

If you test positive for COVID-19, know what protective steps to take if you are sick.

  • Most people have mild COVID-19 illness and can recover at home without medical care. Contact your healthcare provider if your symptoms are getting worse or if you have questions about your health.

If you test negative for COVID-19, you probably were not infected at the time your sample was collected. This does not mean you will not get sick:

  • A negative test result only means that you did not have COVID-19 at the time of testing or that your sample was collected too early in your infection.
  • You could also be exposed to COVID-19 after the test and then get infected and spread the virus to others.
  • If you have symptoms later, you may need another test to determine if you are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

If you get tested even though you don’t have symptoms, you should continue to follow recommended physical (social) distancing practices, such as staying home and staying at least 6 feet away from others when you are outside your home until your test results are back. You should also use a cloth face covering whenever you leave the home and are around others that are not part of your household. If you were a contact to a positive case of COVID-19 you should remain in quarantine at your home and away from others until your results are back and then follow the guidance below based on what those results show.

If you are symptomatic but have a negative test result for COVID-19, we recommend that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever has resolved without the use of fever- reducing medications and there is improvement in your symptoms.

If you got tested due to close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you must still complete your quarantine period, even if you had a negative test. The quarantine period should be at least 7 full days (with a negative test on/after day 5) or 10 days (if unable to get tested). A 14-day quarantine is the safest of the 3 options, and should be followed if able.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you most likely DO currently have an active COVID-19 infection and can give the virus to others. Stay home for 10 days after your symptoms first appeared and at least 24 hours with no fever (without using fever-reducing medications) and improved symptoms, whichever is longer. If at any time you develop severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, seek medical care right away and do not wait for results of your test.

Be sure to tell all your close contacts they need to be in quarantine. The quarantine period should be at least 7 full days (with a negative test on/after day 5) or 10 days (if unable to test). The safest amount of time for everyone to quarantine is 14 days.

You may receive a phone call from the City of Chicago’s contact tracers for a phone interview. The call will come from 312-74-COVID (312-742-6843). Please answer this phone call and provide as much detail as possible. Additional information can be found at: chicago.gov/TraceCOVID.

The clock resets if you develop symptoms during your isolation period. If you develop symptoms you have to stay isolated at home for at least 1 day after your fever has resolved without the use of fever- reducing medications, AND there is improvement in your respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath), AND at least 10 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared. 

If you were a contact to a positive case and were in quarantine when your symptoms developed you must follow the isolation instructions for people with symptoms.

Since we are still learning more about the novel coronavirus and how long people can remain infectious, all individuals are required to stay 6 feet apart from others and wear a cloth face covering in public regardless of what their test results were or whether they have already been in isolation or quarantine.

The FDA has alerted patients and health care providers that false negative tests are likely to occur, but the test remains authorized for use in the COVID 19 pandemic. At CDPH sites, testing is self-administered and supervised by trained staff, in accordance with the FDA's EUA. 

If you test negative for COVID-19, you most likely do not currently have an active COVID-19 infection. However, no test is perfect, and you can sometimes get false negative results. You should keep monitoring symptoms and follow CDPH guidance on steps to protect yourself and others.

CDPH Community-Based Testing FAQs

To prepare for your visit, check out this resource: Instructions for Oral Swab Test Collection   

If you are uninsured or do not have a state identification card, you can still receive a COVID-19 test at no cost to you. During pre-registration you will be asked to upload your insurance card or state identification card. The ability to provide this information in no way affects your access to a COVID-19 test. Information provided is strictly used for CDPH insurance and federal government reimbursement purposes only. If you’re not able to upload your information during the pre-registration process, please bring it to your scheduled appointment. 

Pre-registration is strongly recommended, but not required. Please note that onsite registration may cause longer wait times.

  • If you have health insurance, your insurance carrier will be billed for the cost of the test. By law, the insurance company may not charge you any co-pay, deductible, or any out-of-pocket expense for the test.
  • If you do not have health insurance, the federal government will cover the cost of your test if you upload state identification or driver’s license.
  • If you do not upload insurance information or identification, the City of Chicago will pay for your test.

Children (over 1 year old) can be tested at a CDPH Community-Based Testing site. Infants need to see a pediatric doctor. 

Results from CDPH Community-Based Testing sites usually take up to three days. If you provided an email address, be sure to check the email address regularly. Remember, while waiting for your test results you should stay home and avoid contact with others.

If you have not received your test results from a CDPH Community-Based Testing site after 3 days, go to the Curative website, email support@curativeinc.com or call 888.702.9042. You will need your Appointment Reference Number. While waiting for test results you should stay home and avoid contact with others.

CDPH Community-Based Testing sites use oral (mouth) swabs, which you administer to yourself. The test is observed by trained personnel. It is a viral test that detects current infection, antibody (or immunity) tests are not available.

Yes, the test is authorized under the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). As of 3/23/2020 we have notified the FDA of our operation and received approval to operate commercial testing.  The test is NOT authorized for at home sample collection. 

All testing static sites and some mobile testing sites are outside. Please dress to stay warm while waiting.

CDPH Community-Based Testing sites use oral (mouth) swabs, which you administer to yourself. The test is observed by trained personnel. Watch the Curative Oral Collection Instructional Video before your appointment.

  • Yes, City testing sites (called static sites), are located at Douglass Park, Prosser Career Academy, Gately Park, and Midway Airport Parking Lot B.  These sites will open 30 minutes before their standard operating times for Pace ADA Paratransit riders.  If you use Pace ADA Paratransit during normal testing site operation hours, you will be given priority testing. Days and time vary.  Pre-registration is strongly encouraged. You can pre-register at this link: www.chicagocovidtesting.com 
  • If you use Pace Paratransit, reserve a trip as you typically do.  Return trips can be scheduled for 20 minutes after you are dropped off, at the same site you were dropped off at.  We will make every effort to minimize wait times. 
  • Standard Pace Paratransit fares ($3) apply. Registered Pace Paratransit riders can also consider the Taxi Access Program (TAP). For more information visit https://www.pacebus.com/tap 
  • Testing sites have both walk-up and drive-thru options.  If you use Pace Paratransit, please navigate to the ground site, since Paratransit vehicles cannot stay on site during the test.  You are encouraged to register ahead of time at ChicagoCovidTesting.com to reduce wait times. Please dress warmly as these are outdoor sites and wait times vary.  When you arrive at the site, please request any assistance needed from a staff member.  

                                                                                                                                                                           

Yes, clear face masks are available.  When you arrive, please ask for the staff person to use a clear mask. 

  • Yes, service animals are permitted.   The U.S. Department of Justice defines a service animal as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.  The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the individual's disability.    Service animals must be under the control of the handler at all times.   
      

The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) is working hard to bring COVID-19 testing to the communities that need it most.  If you represent a population that you think needs testing and would like to offer your organization's space to serve as a potential testing site, please fill out this survey.

Yes, staff persons on-site have access to a language line to assist residents that are monolingual in a language other than English. When you arrive, please let the staff person know you are in need of this service.