Mask and Visitor Policies: Following CDC and state of NC guidance, masks are still required in all Atrium Health facilities. View our current visitor policy

Atrium Health is always here for you and your family. During the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), we’re doing everything we can to make sure you get the testing you need as quickly and easily as possible.

Keep reading to learn all about COVID-19 testing and what you can expect throughout the process.

This information is about viral testing, or tests that check for a current COVID-19 infection. If you’re looking for information about antibody testing, or testing to check if you had COVID-19 in the past, you can find that here.

When to get a COVID-19 test

There are a lot of reasons you might seek a COVID-19 test. Sometimes, when you should get tested for COVID-19 depends on your vaccination status.

We recommend getting tested if:
  • You have symptoms of COVID-19. Some symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath and loss of taste and/or smell. It’s a good idea to get tested if you feel sick, even if you’re fully vaccinated.
  • You were exposed to COVID-19. Exposure can happen if you’re within 6 feet of someone who tests positive for COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes, even if one or both of you were wearing a mask.
    • If you’re fully vaccinated: Get tested 3 to 5 days after you were exposed to COVID-19. You don’t need to quarantine unless you test positive.
    • If you’re not fully vaccinated: Get tested and start to quarantine as soon as you find out about the exposure. If your first test is negative, get tested again 5 to 7 days later.
  • If you were recently in a large group of people and you’re not fully vaccinated. You should get tested if you were around a lot of people and couldn’t stay 6 feet apart, including travel and large social gatherings.
  • You need a confirmed negative test. You might be asked to show a negative test result for work, school or travel, or to attend an event where exposure to COVID-19 is a risk.
  • You’re having surgery or another procedure that requires sedation. If you’re getting a procedure at Atrium Health, you may be tested for COVID-19 beforehand. Your care team will let you know how and when testing will be done.

If you’re not sure if you should be tested, try our risk assessment tool, send a message to your care team on MyAtriumHealth, call your doctor or use one of the care options here.

How to get a COVID-19 test

If you’re sick and seek care for your symptoms, like at a doctor’s office or urgent care, your healthcare provider will help you decide if COVID-19 testing is right for you.

If you want to seek testing without a full doctor visit for screening or care, we offer a few convenient options.

Drive-thru testing at community testing sites

Our community testing sites offer drive-thru COVID-19 testing at convenient locations – no appointment needed. Testing is available for people ages 5 and older. Anyone under the age of 18 will need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Our community testing sites are first-come, first-served. Wait times vary by location and may be long. Each site will let people know when they are full and can no longer take patients. This may be before the closing time due to a large number of people already in line.

Find a community testing site near you.

Testing by appointment at area testing centers

If you’d prefer to set up a specific time to get tested, you can make an appointment at one of our area testing centers. These locations offer COVID-19 testing for ages 5 and older. Anyone under the age of 18 will need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Find a location and schedule your appointment on MyAtriumHealth, or call 704-468-8888. Don’t have a MyAtriumHealth account? Sign up now.

After you schedule your appointment, we’ll send you the full details by text message – including the time and location of the testing appointment.

What to expect at our testing sites

  • Before the test:

    • Please wear a mask or cloth face covering to the testing site and keep it on until you’re asked to remove it for your test.

    • When you arrive at the testing location, there will be signs that tell you where to go and an on-site team that will give you instructions. If driving, stay in your car with the windows up until a team member tells you to lower your window or get out of the car. If walking, please stay 6 feet apart from other individuals.

  • During the test:

    • The on-site team will let you know when it’s time for your test. Our community and area testing centers are self-swab sites, which means that you will swab your own nose or your child’s nose with supervision from a healthcare professional. Here’s some information about how self-swab tests work.

  • After the test:

    • You can expect to receive your results via text message or phone call approximately 24 to 72 hours after your testing visit. You can also review your test results in MyAtriumHealth – creating an account is fast and easy. If you don’t receive your results within 7 days of your visit, please call 704-468-8888.

    • While you’re waiting for your test results, if you have COVID-like symptoms, or you’re unvaccinated and were exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you should quarantine at home.

Testing by appointment at primary care offices

Testing is available at primary care offices by appointment for all ages, including kids under 5. To schedule a testing appointment, call your primary care doctor’s office or call 704-468-8888.

If you don't have a primary care provider, we’re happy to help you find one. Please call us at 704-468-8888 for help, or search for a doctor online here.

Wondering how your COVID-19 testing appointment works? Here’s what to expect.

  • Before the test:

    • After you schedule your appointment, we’ll send you the full details by text message – including the time and location of the testing appointment.

    • Please wear a mask or cloth face covering to your testing appointment and keep it on until you’re asked to remove it for the test. Masks are also required for children ages 2 and older.

  • During the test:

  • After the test:

    • You can expect to receive your results via text message or phone call approximately 24 to 72 hours after your testing visit. You can also review your test results in MyAtriumHealth – creating an account is fast and easy. If you don’t receive your results within 7 days of your visit, please call 704-468-8888.

    • While you’re waiting for your test results, if you have COVID-like symptoms, or you’re unvaccinated and were exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you should quarantine at home.

Follow-up care

If you test positive, we are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your primary care provider will provide you the follow-up care needed, but should you need immediate care, we have several on-demand care options or you can call us at 704-468-8888 for help 24/7.

If you don't have a primary care provider, we are happy to help you find one. Please call us at 704-468-8888 for help finding a provider.

Helpful resources

For more helpful, easy-to-share information about COVID-19 testing, check out our infographic library below. To open an infographic as a PDF, click the arrow icon next to its title.

Frequently asked questions

There are many different types of tests for COVID-19. Here are 3 of the most common tests and how we use them.

PCR tests

PCR tests are a type of viral test that checks for a current COVID-19 infection. Right now, PCR tests are the most accurate testing option available. This is usually the test required by employers, schools and for travel. It can take 24 to 72 hours to get results. When you come to Atrium Health for a COVID-19 test, you’ll most likely get a PCR test. It’s done by swabbing your nose.

Rapid "antigen" tests"

Rapid tests check for a current COVID-19 infection and can give results in 15 minutes or less. But because they aren’t as accurate as PCR tests, they might not be accepted by employers, schools or for travel. Rapid tests are limited, so we only use them at certain locations for a specific purpose, like checking for a COVID-19 infection before a surgical procedure. Like PCR tests, rapid tests are done by swabbing your nose.

Antibody tests

Antibody tests can show if you’ve had COVID-19 in the past, and all it takes is a simple blood draw. While we’re still learning the full potential of antibody testing, experts believe this could be a helpful tool to guide our communities forward. Testing is available by appointment only at convenient locations throughout the greater Charlotte area. Find out more.

PCR and rapid “antigen” tests are used to check for a current COVID-19 infection. These tests are typically provided at no cost to you, but the cost can change depending on your insurance coverage and the reason for your test.

There is no out-of-pocket cost for tests that are done for health reasons, like testing after exposure to COVID-19 or if you have COVID-19 symptoms.

If you need a test for work, school or travel, this test will be billed to your insurance provider, and you may have out-of-pocket costs. Contact your insurance provider with questions specific to your plan.

We use self-swab tests at our drive-thru community testing sites and at our area testing centers. Self-swab, or self-testing, means that you conduct the test by swabbing your nose or your child’s nose. You can find out more about self-testing here.

Children ages 5 and older can get tested by:

  • Visiting one of our drive-thru community testing sites – no appointment needed. Find a location.
  • Making an appointment at one of our area testing centers. Schedule on MyAtriumHealth or by calling 704-468-8888.
  • Scheduling an appointment at your pediatrician’s office. To book a testing appointment, call your doctor or call 704-468-8888 to get help.

If your child is under 5 years old and you think they need to be tested, you can make a testing appointment at your pediatrician’s office. Call the office to schedule. If you need help scheduling or don’t have a doctor, call 704-468-8888. You can also search for a doctor online here.

You don’t need ID to get tested at our community testing sites or area testing centers. You may be asked to show ID if you visit a primary care practice for testing.

You can expect to receive your results via text message or phone call approximately 24 to 72 hours after your testing appointment.

Your test results will also be available in MyAtriumHealth, even if you haven’t set up your account yet. Sign up or log in here.

If you don’t receive your results within 7 days of your appointment, please call 704-468-8888.

If you have questions about testing for COVID-19, the best thing you can do is message your care team on MyAtriumHealth or call your doctor. If you don’t have a doctor, you can search for one online here. We can help you book a primary care appointment within 24 hours.

For more general information about COVID-19 testing, we recommend the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

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