How long does the coronavirus test take and when will I get my COVID-19 results?


It may take over a week to get your coronavirus test results back.

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For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

Coronavirus tests are limited across the US, but the good news is that more tests — and more types of testing — are slowly becoming available. The challenge is that testing is uneven, from who can get a COVID-19 test to the difficulty of finding a testing site in your area and even how long the test results take to come in.

The shortage of COVID-19 test kits and personal protective equipment in areas where there’s a surge for testing presents one problem. Another recently discovered issue was the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s labs were found to be contaminated with coronavirus, which delayed distribution of coronavirus test kits.

In most cases, the doctor you work with should let you know a time frame for getting your coronavirus results back, but that can vary from hours to even a week. Here’s what we know about how long it takes to get tested and to find out your results.


There are drive-through locations for coronavirus testing.

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When can I get a COVID-19 test?

In order to be tested for coronavirus, you’ll likely need to have a doctor’s order and make an appointment with a testing facility.

However, if you’re a high-risk patient or experiencing severe symptoms, like trouble breathing, you should seek medical attention immediately. Call your doctor for a referral to a testing clinic in your area. 

What is the COVID-19 test like?

When you go to get tested for coronavirus, you’ll either be directed to a clinic or a drive-through testing site. If you’re waiting in a medical facility, it’s recommended by the CDC that you wear a face covering to prevent spreading the virus to others.

The most common type of testing for COVID-19 today is a nose swab test that’s similar to testing for other flu viruses (though antibody blood tests are on the horizon). The doctor will swab the inside of your nose for several seconds with a long, single-use tool that looks like a giant Q-Tip and reaches the upper part of the throat. The test is then sealed and sent to a laboratory to determine if you have COVID-19.

When will I get my results?

In theory, the lab will be able to determine if you’ve acquired the coronavirus within hours. But depending on where you live, it can take anywhere up to a week or more to get your test results back. It also depends on how many tests have been administered in your location. For example, some facilities, like in New York, are overwhelmed by the number of people getting tested — therefore, the waiting period may be longer.

Other states, like California, are experiencing a backlog of test results due to the lack of kits at their facilities. Norton Healthcare says test results are taking longer than anticipated because of increased testing nationwide.

The Cleveland Clinic in Ohio says that patients in the hospital who are very ill or high-risk typically receive their results within 24 hours. However, patients who are tested at a drive-through facility get their results back within five to 10 days.

Once your results are available, your doctor will contact you to let you know if you’ve tested positive or negative for the coronavirus. 

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What if I test positive for the coronavirus?

If the results come back that you’ve been infected with COVID-19, make sure to let everyone you’ve come in close contact with in the last two weeks know. Ask your doctor for next steps and continue to isolate yourself at home. We have some guidelines for taking care of yourself if you’re infected with the virus.

The CDC says you can leave the house again once you’ve had no fever for at least 72 hours (without medicine), symptoms like coughing have improved and at least seven days have passed since your symptoms first appeared.

For more information on coronavirus testing, here’s how to find a coronavirus testing site near you and check wait times, who qualifies for COVID-19 testing and why you can’t use a coronavirus home testing kit yet.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.


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