At home COVID-19 tests
Last updated September 9, 2021
Rapid, over the counter COVID-19 tests are now widely available around King County. These tests provide results in 15 minutes. Rapid, over the counter tests are also known as home-based self-collected COVID tests, or antigen tests. Whichever test you choose to use, follow the manufacturer's instructions.
For more information on self-testing please see this guidance from the Washington State Department of Health. Below are some answers to common questions about these tests and considerations for use.
How to report results
The results can be reported to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) by calling 1-800-525-1027. Additionally, calling 1-800-525-1027 can provide answers to questions about what to do next. This hotline is available Monday 6 a.m.-10 p.m. and Tuesday through Sunday 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Language assistance is available. Home-based self-collected rapid antigen tests are not required to be reported to DOH, however, Public Health – Seattle & King County strongly encourages reporting results.
If you have a positive result, please stay in isolation for 10 days.
What do I do if I test positive with an over-the-counter home-based rapid test?
If you have a positive result, consider yourself positive and:
- Isolate for 10 days
- Tell your close contacts and household members you have tested positive
If you use more than one test on a single individual and one of the tests is positive, consider yourself positive and isolate for 10 days.
What do I do if I think my over-the-counter home-based rapid test is a false positive?
If you test positive and don't have symptoms and weren't exposed and are concerned this may be a false positive, consider getting a confirmatory test through your healthcare provider or at one of King County's testing sites. Healthcare personnel must collect or observe the collection of a confirmatory test.
For a confirmatory negative test to override a rapid test result, the sample must be collected within 48 hours of the initial positive home-based, self-collected rapid test result.
If you test positive on the confirmation test, isolate from others for 10 days (starting when you initially tested positive or when your symptoms started if you develop symptoms), regardless of your vaccination status.
What if I have a negative result but I am concerned I have COVID-19?
If you are concerned that you might have COVID-19 because you were exposed or have symptoms, then we recommend quarantining yourself and getting another COVID-19 test.
Options for repeat testing include:
- through your healthcare provider
- one of the King County testing sites
- another testing site with confirmatory testing
- continuing to test (no more than once in a 24-hour period) with an over-the-counter rapid test during your quarantine period.
If a repeat test is positive, isolate from others for 10 days since your positive test, OR, if you develop symptoms, enter isolation the date your symptoms started, regardless of your vaccination status.
What else do I need to know if I get a confirmation test?
When getting a confirmation test, wear your mask and tell the staff that you have either had a positive test with an at home, self-collected over-the-counter test OR that you have had a concerning exposure or symptoms consistent with COVID-19 BEFORE you remove your mask.
Some sports are considered high risk for spreading COVID-19. To reduce the risk of transmission for competitive school-based sports teams, Washington Department of Health (DOH) has partnered with Health Commons to implement weekly testing. On days of competition, teams are required to use a type of rapid antigen testing called BinaxNOW. Informed consent is required. For more information on how sports are classified, please refer to the DOH webpage.
For teams who want to compete, athletes who are not fully vaccinated are required to test for COVID-19 twice weekly. If an athlete is fully vaccinated, they are exempt from weekly testing if they do not have COVID-like symptoms.
An athlete who has tested positive and recovered from COVID within the last 90 days is exempt from testing unless they start experiencing COVID-like symptoms.
How far apart should athletes get tested in a week?
Tests need to be done 3-4 days apart. On the day of competition, anyone competing must take a rapid antigen test. Tests taken on the day of competition count as part of the twice weekly testing requirement.
Can any type of COVID-19 test count towards the twice weekly testing requirement?
Yes. However, rapid antigen testing is well suited to this requirement as results are provided in 15 minutes, which allows coaches/trainers to make immediate decisions about an athlete’s ability to compete that week.
What should we do if an athlete gets a positive test result?
If there is a positive test result, notify competition officials, the opposing team/facility, and Public Health—Seattle & King County (PHSKC). Any athlete with a positive test will immediately be excluded from the event and removed from the venue.
Whenever an athlete tests positive, the team must work with PHSKC to determine how to approach isolation, quarantine, and/or further testing (regardless of vaccination status).
If we get one positive test result on the day of competition, can the rest of the team still compete?
According to DOH, all teammates who are not fully vaccinated will also be ineligible to play. These teammates will be considered a close contact, and be immediately removed from the venue, even if they have tested negative up to that point.
Athletes who have recently recovered from COVID in the last three months and are symptom-free may participate in team sports activities without testing. To do so, they must provide a letter from their doctor attesting that they fall into this category (the individual must have had a positive diagnostic test within three months and must have displayed symptoms. An antibody test is not sufficient).
What if an athlete is vaccinated?
Fully vaccinated athletes are not required to quarantine and can continue to participate in the event. If a vaccinated athlete is considered a close contact, they don’t have to quarantine if they don’t have symptoms. Vaccinated athletes that have had close contact should monitor for symptoms for 14 days but do not need to quarantine or isolate.
However, if a fully vaccinated athlete has COVID-like symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19, they will be ineligible to play and must leave the venue.
Should coaches and trainers also use these tests?
This program is only required for athletes engaging in competition. However, we encourage coaches and trainers to get tested frequently if they have symptoms, or if they are exposed to COVID-19 and are not fully vaccinated.
Link/share our site at kingcounty.gov/rapidtesting