As classrooms reopen for this fall, people continue to travel, and COVID-19 cases rise, it’s important that everyone continues safe practices. Get vaccinated and boosted. Get tested if you have symptoms. Here are answers to some questions about COVID-19 testing, including where to get a self-test.

When to use a COVID-19 test?
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, PCR tests were almost always used to detect the virus. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, over-the-counter home antigen testing options have become available, making it easier and faster to get test results at home. Home antigen tests can be used in most situations, including when:

  • Symptoms appear (if the first test is negative, retest 24 to 48 hours later)
  • Exposed to someone who tested positive (if there are no symptoms, test 5 days after exposure)
  • Planning to spend time with people who are at high risk for serious illness and attend an indoor gathering or other activity

PCR tests are used when directed by a doctor or when required to show a negative PCR test to attend an event or activity. Kaiser Permanente offers many locations to get PCR tests. Getting tested in their facility enables members to view their results on and receive guidance from their care team if they test positive.

Self-test expiration dates extended
The Food and Drug Administration has extended the shelf life of iHealth and CareStart COVID-19 self-tests. Visit the brands’ websites for information about expiration dates and proper storage.

What to do if a member tests positive for COVID-19?

Stay at home and isolate. You can test again (self-test is recommended) on day 5 or later. As CDC guidance continues to evolve, visit to learn more about when to test and end isolation.

  • If a member gets a positive result from a COVID‑19 self‑test, they can complete an e‑visit right away to report it to their care team. They’ll get instructions on available treatment options, when to quarantine, and when to contact their doctor.
  • If a member gets a positive COVID-19 test result from Kaiser Permanente, they’ll get instructions on available treatment options, when to quarantine, and when to contact their doctor.