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- No matter your vaccination status, you should get tested if you were in close contact with someone with COVID-19 or if you have any symptoms. Stay home, do not go to school or work, and get tested for COVID-19.
When to Get Tested
- Regardless of your vaccination status, get tested 5 days after exposure to someone with COVID-19, even if you do not have symptoms. (Day 0 is the last date of close contact, and day 1 is the first day after the date of last close contact.)
- If you have symptoms of COVID-19, get tested immediately - even if you are fully vaccinated.
- COVID-19 Testing: What To Know
Where to Get Tested:
- At your doctor's office. Contact your doctor or primary health care provider.
- At a community testing site. Testing at these sites is free. Some locations may require an appointment to receive a test.
- Check to see if a local pharmacy is offering free community testing.
- See if your child attends a school that participates in DHS' K-12 School Testing Program. Students, faculty, and in some cases family members in participating schools may be tested at the school for free.
- At home using DHS at-home specimen collection kits or with store-bought COVID-19 testing kits.
- Reminder: New testing sites continue to open. With appointments filling rapidly, Wisconsinites may find themselves at an unfamiliar testing site. If you select a testing site operated by an independent business, use these guidelines to help protect you from a site that may not be legitimate. Be sure to share your concerns or file a complaint about your experiences with COVID-19 testing providers.
At-Home Testing Kits:
Store-bought COVID-19 testing kits (such as those bought at a pharmacy), are not supervised by a health care professional and are not sent to a lab for processing. Store-bought COVID-19 testing kits cannot be used to inform any public health decisions. If you choose to use a store-bought at-home testing kit, be sure to follow up with a test done by a health care provider at a community or clinical testing site.
Need help with an at home kit? Check out the videos here to see how to videos of the BinaxNow Rapid Antigen tests. English, Arabic, Swahili, ASL, and other languages available!
Consider Getting Tested If...
You have attended a one-time, high-risk activity, such as a large gathering or an indoor event with people you do not live with.
- If you start to feel sick, get tested right away.
- If you do not feel sick, it's best to get tested approximately five days after the event.
You are actively engaged with people outside of your household or are working at places that remain open during the pandemic.
- If you do not have symptoms and you have not been told you have been exposed to COVID-19, you are still at risk given how quickly the virus is spreading.
- Make an appointment at a Community Testing Site. Plan ahead to find an available appointment, even if that includes looking at a testing location a little farther away.
- The DHS at-home specimen collection kit may also be a good option for those getting tested as part of a screening strategy. Ask your employer about how often you need to be tested.
You are returning to a classroom or campus after quarantine.
- Children returning to school, youth sports, or extracurricular activities.
- College and trade-school students returning to classes or campus.
- Elementary school educators and school staff.
What Should I Do While I'm Waiting for Test Results?
- Wear a mask around others to prevent possible spread of the virus.
- If you are sick, it's important that you isolate yourself until you get your test results. Do not have contact with others. Do not go to work, meet up with friends or attend gatherings. Isolating yourself will prevent spread of the virus should you test positive.
- If you were tested for COVID-19 but have no symptoms and no known or suspected exposure to someone with COVID- 19 (for example, as part of a workplace screening program), you do not need to stay home while waiting for your results unless you are told to do so by your employer or by a public health official.
- Next Steps: While You Wait For Your Test Results.
- Negative test result: You most likely do not have COVID-19 at this time. You could have been exposed to COVID-19 at some point and not enough time has passed for the test to pick it up. You may test positive at a later date.
- If you were exposed to COVID-19, quarantine for 5 days:
- Stay home, monitor for symptoms, and get tested at least 5 days after you were exposed. Wear a well-fitting mask around others for 5 days after your quarantine period.
- You do not need to quarantine if: you tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days with a viral test, or you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines.
- You should wear a mask around others for 10 days after exposure and test 5 days after exposure.
- More Info: Negative COVID-19 Test Results: What Does It Mean?
- Positive test result: Follow isolation guidance if you test positive for COVID-19, even if you are up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines:
- Stay home and separate yourself from others.
- Wear a well-fitted mask if you must be around others.
- Wash your hands and clean high-touched surfaces frequently.
- DHS wants people to be aware of how to share their concerns or file complaints about their experiences with COVID-19 testing providers.
- People should direct complaints about a COVID-19 testing experience to the DHS Office of Inspector General at 877-865-3432 or online. Examples of complaints could include: incorrect results, missing results, fake results, testing quality, testing site cleanliness, insurance billing, inappropriate fee for tests, testing fraud such as fake test kits, and other related topics.
- If you have questions about the complaint process, please email DHSOIGAdmin@dhs.wisconsin.gov.