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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. Please do not go to the Emergency Department or Urgent Care only for a COVID-19 test.

If you want to get tested without a full doctor visit for screening or care, we also offer appointments just for self-swab testing at our primary care offices.

Or, to get tested without an appointment, visit one of our drive-thru community testing sites.

Keep scrolling to learn more. If you’re looking for testing for your child, please review our FAQ section for information about testing options by age.

Drive-thru testing at community testing sites

Due to decreased demand for testing, drive thru testing is currently closed. Should the needs rise again, please check back here for more information.

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 resources below. To open an infographic as a PDF, click the arrow icon next to its title.

How to Self-Swab for a COVID-19 Test

One of our clinical supervisors walks you through the process of how to correctly self-swab and what to expect afterwards.

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. With increases in demand for COVID-19 testing, your results can be delayed. Test results can be expected within 3-5 days. 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.

If you make an appointment at a primary care office just for testing, or you visit one of our community testing sites, we’ll provide a self-swab COVID-19 test. 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.

If your child is sick and you think they need to be tested for COVID-19, we recommend contacting your pediatrician’s office to schedule an appointment for testing or care.

If you need help finding testing for your child or don’t have a pediatrician, call 704-468-8888. You can also search for a doctor online here.

For children ages 3 and older, you can also make an appointment just for testing at one of our area primary care offices, even if you or your child hasn’t been there before. Find a location and schedule your appointment on MyAtriumHealth, or call 704-468-8888. Don’t have a MyAtriumHealth account? Sign up now.

Please note that anyone under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to get tested.

You may be asked to show ID if you visit a primary care office for testing.

With increases in demand for COVID-19 testing, your results can be delayed. Test results can be expected within 3-5 days. Your results will be delivered via text message or phone call.

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.