COVID-19 At-Home Testing

2 min read

Are at-home tests different from other COVID-19 tests?

Yes. If you have gotten a test administered by another person at a pharmacy or testing center, it’s possible you got a PCR test, which is the standard test for detecting the virus and can detect even small traces in your body with high accuracy. At-home rapid tests are typically antigen tests, which use a different approach to give you fast results without having to send in a sample to a lab. PCR tests typically take 2-5 days to get results, whereas rapid antigen tests typically take about 15 minutes.

Is taking a test at home accurate?

Antigen tests can catch roughly 85% of people who are infected with the virus, missing 15% of those infected and giving them a negative result despite carrying the COVID-19 virus (false negative). Antigen tests are very good at detecting people with high viral loads, meaning people who are very contagious and likely to spread COVID-19 to others. If you receive a negative test, the CDC recommends testing again in a few days (with at least 24 hours between tests) to ensure the testing is accurate.

When should I use an at-home COVID-19 test?

You may want to take an at home test if you:

  • Experience any cold or flu-like symptoms, such as a headache, sore throat, fever, unexpected fatigue or muscle aches.
  • Have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 or have a possible exposure (such as being in a crowded public space).
  • Are visiting other people and want to take an extra measure to protect them.  

Can I take a test if I don’t have symptoms?

Yes, you can still take a test if you don’t have symptoms. Some people who get COVID-19 are asymptomatic, meaning they don’t show any symptoms, and they can still spread the virus. It may take 2-14 days after exposure to experience symptoms. If you’re going to an indoor gathering, testing beforehand is important in order to prevent spreading COVID-19 to others.

How long after a possible exposure should I take a test?

If you’ve been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, the CDC recommends testing 5 days after the exposure or as soon as you start having symptoms. If your test result is negative, you should test again a day or two later in case the first test was incorrect. This is called a “false negative.”

How do I take an at-home COVID-19 test?

  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Have a timer ready to make sure you time the steps correctly.
  • Follow the instructions from the testing kit carefully (the instructions may be different depending on the manufacturer). Most tests require you to use a long Q-tip to put in your nose, and some may require saliva (spit) from your mouth.
  • Do not reuse testing materials. If you think you followed the instructions incorrectly and want to take the test again, use a new kit.
  • If you have a rapid test, wait for the results (often 15 minutes).

If my test is positive what do I do?

If your result is positive, the CDC recommends staying at home and staying away from other people for 5-10 days. If you do need to come in contact with someone, you should wear a mask to protect them. If you’ve been in close contact with someone recently, you should reach out to let them know you tested positive, so that they can test as well.

Many people experience mild symptoms, but if your symptoms become severe, call your doctor or local emergency room. The list below is not all of the possible symptoms, so please call your doctor if you have other symptoms that are concerning.

  • Trouble breathing
  • Ongoing pain or pressure in the chest
  • Confusion
  • Inability to wake up or stay awake
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nails, depending on skin tone

How can I prevent COVID-19?

  • Get a vaccine and booster shot when it’s available to you.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water to get rid of germs.
  • Wear a mask to protect yourself and others.
  • Social distance from other people, staying at least 6 feet apart.
  • Avoid exposure by not gathering in large groups.

Are the tests covered by my insurance?

As of January 15, 2022, insurers must cover at least eight at-home COVID-19 tests per individual per month.

Test kits can be purchased online and at most drugstores and pharmacies. The cost out of pocket typically ranges from $20-$40/box and contains one or two test kits. There are likely free testing sites in your area if the cost of at-home tests is a challenge for you.

How do I order an at-home COVID-19 test?

Twentyeight Health offers the ACON FlowFlex at-home test to users with a current birth control subscription. If you're new to Twentyeight, you can order COVID-19 tests with a birth control subscription when you sign up. If you're already a loyal Twentyeight user, you can add COVID-19 tests from your dashboard. Please reach out to contact@twentyeighthealth.com with any questions.


For more information, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

With the participation of
Dr. Eddie Garcia

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