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COVID-19 Testing

Before you throw out ‘expired’ tests, check to see if your test expiration dates have been extended.

The FDA has extended the expiration dates for BinaxNOW and iHealth home test kits. For more information and to look up the lot number of a kit to see when it expires, click on the links below:

There are two kinds of COVID-19 tests

There are two types of diagnostic tests: tests, such as RT-PCR tests, that detect the virus’s genetic material, and antigen tests that detect specific proteins on the surface of the virus.

  • Diagnostic tests which detect virus and tell you if you have a current infection
  • Antibody tests which might tell you if you had a past infection

For more information about testing and to download posters and infographics, visit the FDA or CDC website.


Frequent testing for COVID-19 helps prevent spread of the virus among all people, vaccinated and not.

Reasons for testing include:

  • If you have COVID-19 symptoms
  • At least 5 days after known or suspected close contact to COVID-19
  • For screening (schools, workplaces, congregate settings, etc.)
  • Before and after travel
  • When asked by a healthcare professional or public health official

To get your test result, please check with the group that performed your test, such as your healthcare provider, pharmacy or state health department testing site. How long it will take to get your test results depends on the test used and where you receive your test.

Follow CDC Guidelines for Isolation & Quarantine.

If Positive Result

If Negative Result

  • If up to update on vaccines: return to normal activities. Wear a mask indoors in areas where the COVID-19 Community Level is high.
  • If not up to date on vaccines and have symptoms or exposure: quarantine for at least 5 days.
  • If not up to date on vaccines and have no symptoms or exposure: return to normal activities. Take steps to get up to date on vaccines to protect yourself and others.

A variety of places offer walk-in and drive-thru (or mobile) testing for COVID-19. These include:

  • CDC Testing Locator Tool: Visit the CDC website to find nearby locations offering no-cost COVID-19 testing.
  • Chicago Department of Public Health Community Sites: https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/sites/covid-19/home/testing.html
  • Cook County Health: Call 312-864-2749 to register adults and children ages 6 months and older for free testing
  • IDPH Community Sites: https://dph.illinois.gov/covid19/testing.html
    • If you do not have health insurance COVID-19 testing is covered for all uninsured Illinois residents regardless of citizenship and immigration status through these free community-based testing sites.
  • Primary care providers: Contact your primary care provider
  • Pharmacies, such as CVS and Walgreens: visit websites for more information. Walgreens is offering free, contactless COVID-19 testing for patients ages 3 and up at select locations. Use the map on their website to find testing near you.
  • Suburban Cook County Community Sites: Visit our events page to see if CCDPH partners are offering testing events near you.

What is a Self-Test or At-Home Test?

Self-tests for COVID-19 give rapid results and can be taken anywhere, regardless of your vaccination status or whether or not you have symptoms.

  • They detect current infection and are sometimes also called “home tests,” “at-home tests,” or “over-the-counter (OTC) tests.”
  • They give your result in a few minutes and are different from laboratory-based tests that may take days to return your result.
  • Self-tests along with vaccination, wearing a well-fitted mask, and physical distancing, help protect you and others by reducing the chances of spreading COVID-19.
  • Self-tests do not detect antibodies which would suggest a previous infection and they do not measure your level of immunity.



Order Free In-Home Test Kits

  • Project Act
    • Residents of eligible communities can order 1 kit (5 tests total) per month while supplies last.
    • The at-home tests are authorized for use with ages 2 and up.
    • Visit Accesscovidtests.org and enter your zip code to see if tests are available in your area:
    • Get answers to frequently asked questions here.
  • U.S. Postal Service

Buy Online or at Pharmacies and Retail Stores

You can buy tests online or from pharmacies and retail stores. Private health insurance may reimburse the cost of purchasing self-tests. Visit the FDA website for a list of authorized tests.

Updated April 11, 2023, 5:34 PM