Testing

Should I Get Tested?

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure (based on previous MERS-CoV virus incubation periods). Self-screen before going into a business for any new or worsening signs or symptoms of possible COVID-19.

Symptoms

You should get tested if you experience the following symptoms:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

What to Know about Testing for COVID-19

ASL: COVID-19 Testing - accessible video from Alert SAAmerican Sign Language (ASL)

Find a Testing Location

COVID-19 Testing Sites throughout Texas and the US

The procedures for COVID-19 testing vary by state, county, and in some cases, the testing site or healthcare provider.

  • COVID-19 Testing Information & Maps: COVID-19 Testing Information throughout Texas can be found from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). If you have symptoms or had a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, you should be tested, regardless of your vaccination status. There are multiple testing options available to Texans.
  • COVID-19 State Testing Directory: This coronavirus testing directory lists resources by state.

At-Home Testing

No Cost At-Home COVID-19 Tests

NOTE: No Cost At-Home COVID-19 Tests ends Friday, September 2nd.

You can order one set of four (4) no cost at-home COVID-19 tests for your residential household through the United States Postal Service. The tests available for order are rapid antigen at-home tests (not PCR), can be taken anywhere, give results within 30 minutes, and work whether you have COVID-19 symptoms or not.

Limit one order per residential address. Orders will ship starting in late January.

Questions & Answers

When & How to Get Tested

I don’t have symptoms and wasn’t exposed, should I get tested?

If you are not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you are considered asymptomatic. Limited asymptomatic testing is available for free at the locations listed above. Results are available usually within 24 hours but may take longer; check with the provider.

I might have been exposed to COVID-19, should I get tested?

The CDC has updated its quarantine and isolation guidance. People who are exposed to COVID-19 do not need to quarantine anymore, but do still need to take precautions and test on day 5.

What kind of test should I get?

Testing locations listed here use the recommended test, which is a nasal swab or a coughing and throat self-swab. Blood tests cannot be used to diagnose COVID-19.

How much does testing cost?

The cost for testing should be covered by most insurance plans or through government-sponsored programs.

  • For private pay patients, please contact your health care provider for cost to administer a COVID-19 test.
  • If you do not have insurance, you can receive a test at no cost through multiple testing sites. View a list of free testing sites.
Beware fake COVID-19 testing sites

Metro Health has been made aware of fake COVID-19 testing sites operating around the city. To report a suspected fake testing site, people can report to the Federal Trade Commission.

Scammers are not running the tests correctly, and their main interest is in your personal information from your ID card. So even though you might be positive for COVID, they could tell you that you tested negative. Remember that the cost-free testing sites listed on our website have been vetted and are legitimate.

Look for these signs to determine if a testing location might be a scam site:

  • There’s no logo on any of the organizer’s materials.
  • The pop-up tent is in the middle of the sidewalk or an unusual location.
  • It’s not affiliated with the storefront or building where it’s set up or any local healthcare organization or medical provider.
  • There’s an up-front cost.
  • They ask for your Social Security number.
What should I do if I suspect I'm at a fake testing site?
  • Ask what lab or medical organization they are affiliated with and then call that facility or check out their website.
  • Report fraudulent testing.

Again, we encourage you to view our list of Testing Locations for legitimate, no-cost testing locations.

Waiting for Test Results

How will I receive my test results?

If you are tested at a private clinic or by your doctor, they will provide you with results. Results are not available from the COVID Hotline or through the Testing Hotline.

What if my result isn’t back, and it has already been 5 days?

If you were tested at a doctor’s office, contact them for guidance. Otherwise, the safer course is to follow the guidance for people who tested positive (just in case). Note that shortened isolation is only for people with no symptoms or mild symptoms that are resolving by day 5, and only if the person can consistently mask in public spaces for the remaining 5 days.

There’s a lot of misunderstanding about 5+5 rule. It doesn’t apply if you can’t mask, or if your symptoms are moderate or severe, or if you’re immunosuppressed. The 5+5 rule came about because most transmission occurs in the 1-2 days before people have symptoms, and in the 2-3 days after.

What should I do while waiting for test results?
  • Act as if you were told you have a positive test. This is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to other people.
  • Stay at home in a specific room away from other people; use a separate bathroom, if possible. Avoid sharing personal items like dishes, glasses, food, towels and bedding. People you live with should also stay home, if possible.
  • Wear a mask around other people, including people inside your home. Wash your mask daily with hot water and soap. You can dry it on high heat. Only touch the ties/ear loops because the inside and outside of the mask may be contaminated.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Make sure you have clean hands before and after putting on your mask. Use cleaning sprays or wipes to disinfect things you touch regularly, including your phone.
  • Monitor your symptoms and take your temperature twice a day. If you have difficulty breathing, confusion, slurred speech, severe dizziness or severe chest pain, then call 911.
  • Make a list of the people who were within 6 feet of you for at least 10-15 minutes (close contacts) from 2 days before you started feeling sick until the time you were tested. If you never had symptoms, list the people you have been close to for 2 days before today’s test. This will help us know who may need to be tested and slow the spread.
  • If applicable, notify your supervisor at work and note the day of testing.

After Receiving Test Results

I was exposed and tested negative, now what?

The CDC has updated its quarantine and isolation guidance. People who are exposed to COVID-19 do not need to quarantine anymore, but do still need to take precautions and test on day 5.

I was exposed and tested positive, now what?

Metro Health will call you to begin your case investigation. The call will come from a 210-207-xxxx number and will read “SA Health Dept” on your caller ID. Please answer the call or return the call to help public health workers contain the virus. They may ask additional questions to complete the contact tracing process and the information that is shared is 100% confidential. They will never ask your bank account number or social security number. Call your close contacts to notify them of the exposure and make them aware of appropriate quarantine measures.

Meanwhile, stay separated (in “isolation”) from other people in your household for at least 5 days in accordance with the CDC guidelines, and contact your employer’s Human Resources department for other directions. See a medical provider if you have trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, trouble staying awake, or other warning signs.

When can I go back to work? 
  • If you were tested because of an exposure to someone who is confirmed to have COVID-19:
    • For people who are exposed and who are unvaccinated or are more than 5 months out from their second mRNA dose (or more than 2 months after the J&J vaccine) and not yet boosted, CDC recommends quarantine for 5 days followed by strict mask use for an additional 5 days. Alternatively, if a 5-day quarantine is not feasible, it is imperative that an exposed person wear a well-fitting mask at all times when around others for 10 days after exposure.
    • Individuals who have received their booster shot or have recently completed their primary series should wear a mask around others for 10 days after the exposure.
  • If you were tested because of symptoms and tested positive:
    • Wait to return to work until all of the following have been met:
      • It has been 5 days since your symptoms started,
      • Your symptoms are better, and
      • You haven’t had a fever for 24 hours even without taking fever reducing medicines
    • Follow the CDC guidelines to wear a well-fitting mask around others for 5 additional days to minimize the risk of spreading the virus to others. Most people don’t need a negative test to be cleared for work.

What else should I be doing?

Avoid crowds, keep a 6-foot distance, wear a face covering, and avoid touching your face without cleaning your hands first.

Remember that people can pass on COVID-19 in the days before they feel sick, or without feeling sick at all. Monitor yourself for symptoms, and get tested if you have any — especially if you have obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic lung disease or other chronic conditions.

Follow CDC and Metro Health guidance and for real-time updates, follow @SAMetroHealth on social media, or text COSAGOV to 55000.

For Employers

Employers should follow CDC guidance.

Employers should not require a COVID-19 test result or a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick to validate their illness, qualify for sick leave, or to return to work.

  • Under the American’s with Disabilities Act, employers are permitted to require a medical provider’s note from your employees to verify that they are healthy and able to return to work. However, as a practical matter, be aware that healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely manner. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care and can follow CDC recommendations to determine when to discontinue home isolation and return to work.
  • The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has established guidance regarding Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The guidance enables employers to take steps to protect workers consistent with CDC guidance, including requiring workers to stay home when necessary to address the direct threat of spreading COVID-19 to others.

COVID-19 Hotline

The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District has opened a COVID-19 Hotline for residents to ask questions about the virus. The hotline is available in English and Spanish. Residents can call 311 or 210.207.6000 and select option 8.

Hours of operation are Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and Saturday & Sunday 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Email questions or requests for presentations to COVID-19@sanantonio.gov
Please note this email is not intended to seek healthcare advice. Questions regarding symptoms will not be responded to through this email.