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COVID-19 testing

Testing saves lives and lets people know if they need to take precautions, like isolating, to stop the virus from spreading; infected people without symptoms can still spread the virus. Testing also helps public health officials identify and respond to outbreaks, and to track new variants of the virus.

Free COVID-19 tests

Another round of ordering opened on November 20. Households can order four more free COVID-19 tests through Visit


If you feel sick or have COVID‑19 symptoms, get tested right away, even if you're vaccinated. If you test positive, most treatments for COVID‑19 must start within 5 days of feeling sick.

When to test

  • If you feel sick. COVID-19 has a wide range of symptoms, so if you’re not feeling well, it’s best to get tested as soon as possible.
  • If you are exposed to someone who has COVID-19, seek testing 5 days after exposure regardless of vaccination status. If symptoms develop, do not wait 5 days and get tested immediately, or consider retesting if you have already been tested. See the Isolation and Quarantine page for detailed guidance.
  • Businesses and organizations may have testing and/or vaccination requirements before entering an establishment or event. Call ahead or check their website before you visit.
  • Before and/or after travel. Check the CDC’s latest travel guidance when planning your travel. (English only)
  • Before gathering with a large group of people, especially those who are at risk of severe disease or may not be up to date on their COVID-⁠19 vaccines.

Who can test

Anyone can get tested for COVID‑19, no matter your age. We recommend that children under 2 years of age are tested by a parent or caregiver. Follow the instructions in the box for directions on testing children.

Testing options

There are two main types of tests that can tell if you have COVID-19:

  • PCR or NAAT test, also called molecular tests.
  • Self-tests. These are also sometimes called antigen, at-home, or rapid tests.

PCR or NAAT tests

  • Generally, both rapid self-tests and PCR/NAAT tests are available through a healthcare provider, clinic, or lab. Rapid test results are available in 15‑30 minutes. PCR/NAAT results are available within 72 hours.
  • Before you go, check the website of the location you plan to visit. Masking may be required. You will be asked to provide your ID and insurance card (if you have insurance), but it is not required to be tested.
  • Find a free or low-cost testing site in King County.


  • Rapid self-tests, also called at-home tests or antigen tests, tell you if you have COVID‑19 in 15 to 30 minutes. They may miss early infection. If you have COVID‑19 symptoms and test negative, repeat your test in 24 to 48 hours.
  • You can purchase self-tests at pharmacies, retail stores, or online. No insurance or prescription is required.
  • Follow the instructions inside the self-test box for the most accurate results. Video instructions in other languages are available on our YouTube Playlist.
  • Many brands of tests have extended their expiration dates. If your self-test has an expired date, go to Washington State Department of Health’s Rapid Antigen Test Date Extensions document (English only) to look up your brand of test. This document also explains how to check if your test is working properly.
  • If you test positive using a self-test or are concerned you have a false positive, consider repeating testing (two negative tests in a row taken 24 hours to 48 hours apart). If your confirmation test is positive, continue to isolate from others for 5 days from when you initially tested positive or when your symptoms started.


  • Free rapid tests are also available through The federal government opened another round of free tests on November 20, allowing households to order four more free COVID-19 tests delivered directly to their door.
  • You can also purchase self-tests at pharmacies, retail stores, or online. Some private health insurance companies may reimburse for at-home tests. Contact your insurance directly to verify your insurance coverage.
  • Low- or no-cost COVID-19 tests are available to everyone in the U.S., including people who are uninsured, at health centers and select pharmacies. Contact your health care provider or find a free or low-cost testing site in King County. If you have insurance, contact your insurance company before scheduling a test to see if testing is covered.

Testing positive

If your test is positive:

  • You most likely have COVID-19, even if you don’t have symptoms
  • You don’t have to confirm the result by going to a lab, clinic, or testing site
  • You do not need another test to seek treatment

What to do:

  • Isolate for 5 days. Continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days after leaving isolation.
  • If you are at higher risk from the disease, consider early treatment options
  • Tell your close contacts and household members you have tested positive.
  • Notify your employer or school. See support for workers.
  • For food or assistance while isolating or quarantining, visit Care Connect Washington or call or text the program hotline, 1-833-453-0336.

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Testing and travel

Testing is no longer required for travel within the U.S. or when entering the U.S.

For travel guidance, please visit the CDC's guidance for travelers.

COVID-19 testing sites by location 

See the list below for free or low-cost COVID-19 testing available throughout King County.

You will be asked to provide your ID and insurance card (if you have insurance), but it is not required to be tested.

These sites are not operated by King County and there may be a cost for their testing services. Please check their website for more information.

Select a city below to find a testing site near you.

Glossary terms

Select a tab below to view definition

Antigen tests, sometimes called a "self-test", “rapid test” or “home test,” detect virus proteins in the body. Antigen self-tests use saliva and nasal swab samples. Results take 15-30 minutes.

Certain groups of people are considered high risk and are more likely to get seriously ill from COVID‑19. People over 60, unvaccinated people, people with underlying health issues, and pregnant people may be at higher risk.

Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.

Tests that detect if COVID‑19 genetic material is in the body. These tests are done on samples collected via a nasal swab (from the nose). These tests include PCR and TMA.

Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.

Testing that is repeated at different points in time is referred to as serial testing. Some self-tests are designed to be used in a series 24 to 48 hours apart. Serial testing may be more likely to detect infection among close contacts of a COVID‑19 case than testing done at a single point in time.