- 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
There are two types of diagnostic tests: molecular 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. For more information about testing and to download posters and infographics, visit the FDA or CDC website.
Testing is free of charge regardless of insurance or immigration status
All COVID-19 testing and related services must be free of charge to Illinois residents, regardless of insurance or immigration status. Some providers are charging Illinois residents for COVID-19 tests, and/or requiring Illinois residents to receive a COVID-19 serology test to check for antibodies prior to, and as a condition of, administering a COVID-19 diagnostic test. Any provider who continues these practices risks investigation, financial consequences, or other sanctions from the State of Illinois. For tips on what situations will trigger a surprise medical bill, and what do to if you receive one, read more in this Consumer Reports article.
IL Dept. of Healthcare and Family Services has a new eligibility category to reimburse providers for these services. For more information, please see this IHFS Provider Notice regarding free COVID-19 testing for Illinois residents.
- People who have symptoms of COVID-19.
- People who have had a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
- People who are fully vaccinated should get tested 3-5 days after exposure, and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.
- People who are not fully vaccinated should quarantine and be tested immediately after being identified, and, if negative, tested again in 5–7 days after last exposure or immediately if symptoms develop during quarantine.
- People not fully vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccine who are prioritized for expanded community screening for COVID-19.
- People not fully vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccine who have been asked or referred to get testing by their school, workplace, healthcare provider, state, tribal, localexternal icon or territorial health department.
You can click here to use the CDC Self-Checker Tool to help you decide whether to get tested.
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.
- If you test positive for COVID-19, know what protective steps to take if you are sick:
- Please see the most updated information about what to do if you are sick on the CDC website
- 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 the test did not pick up COVID-19 at the time of testing or that your sample was collected too early in your infection. Some tests have higher rates of “false negatives” which mean you have COVID-19 but the test read as negative.
- 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.
CDC recommends that employers not require testing to return to work after a respiratory illness, and that those who are ill to stay home for at least 10 days after you first became ill, or 24 hours after your fever has resolved and symptoms are improving, whichever is longer.
One option may be to contact your medical provider and ask them to provide a letter stating that you have been evaluated and are not at risk for COVID-19, or have passed the recommended time period for staying home, are healthy, and can return to work.
Where to go for testing
A variety of places offer walk-in and drive-thru (or mobile) testing for COVID-19. These include:
- Primary care providers – contact your primary care provider
- Cook County Health – testing for CCH patients and staff; requires a doctor’s order for COVID-19 testing at testing tents outside of both Stroger Hospital at 1969 W. Ogden Avenue and Provident Hospital at 500 E. 51st Please be sure to bring your doctor’s order with you
- Pharmacies, such as CVS and Walgreens – visit websites for more information. Walgreens is offering free, contactless COVID-19 testing for patients age 3 and up at select locations. Use the map on their website to find testing near you.
- IDPH Community-Based Testing Sites
- IDPH has a comprehensive list of testing sites. Please scroll to the bottom of the page to view the map and list.
- IDPH deployment of mobile testing units are now only for outbreaks (schools or other organizations). They will do 2 rounds and then the organization is expected to do their own testing after that. Here is the link to request IDPH mobile testing units for an outbreak at your organization: https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=b35GRCxGok6CP3gA3lQ042PLN627LgdAta7iTyP_9MxURTYwU1dYTkJaVkRFOU04WDlVTjI0QVRJQS4u
- IDPH will soon be working with community-based organizations in high risk areas to increase testing capacity by funding CBOs to do testing in their community. Potentially interested CBOs should contact CCDPH.
Available Rapid Antigen Test Resources for Organizations
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in partnership with the Department of Defense (DOD), is providing rapid antigen tests (BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 test) to the Illinois Department of Public Health who is distributing tests to local health departments, including the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH), as well as directly to designated sites in suburban Cook County. The BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 test is a lateral flow test that detects the presence of protein antigens from SARS-CoV-2 in individuals suspected of COVID-19 by their healthcare provider within the first seven days of symptom onset. This U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-authorized diagnostic test does not require any instrumentation to test the samples and instead determines a COVID-19 negative or positive result in about 15 minutes using a test card.
CCDPH is distributing the rapid antigen tests (BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 test) for use in suburban Cook County. Organizations in suburban Cook County who are currently testing or have the capacity to use rapid antigen testing for COVID-19 are encouraged to request rapid point-of-care tests (BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 test) using CCDPH’s application link. CCDPH will be prioritizing distribution of rapid point-of-care tests (BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 test) to vulnerable and high-risk populations based on COVID-19 surveillance data for suburban Cook County, CCDPH’s COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Index, and State and Federal guidance.
For organizations interested in learning more about available rapid antigen test resources, please visit the rapid antigen test request process webpage.
Schools are eligible for free SHIELD and BinaxNOW tests. Click here for more information.