COVID-19 Testing Information

Rapid Testing

About rapid tests

Rapid Tests for COVID-19 give results in 15 minutes and can be taken anywhere, regardless of your vaccination status or whether or not you have symptoms.

  • They detect current infection and are sometimes also called "self tests," “home tests,” “at-home tests,” or “over-the-counter (OTC) tests.”
  • They give your result in a 15 minutes and are different from laboratory-based tests that may take days to return your result.
  • Self-tests along with vaccination and other prevention stepsreduce the chances of spreading COVID-19.
  • Self-tests do not detect antibodies which would suggest a previous infection and they do not measure your level of immunity.

When to take a rapid test

Test yourself if...Timing
You have any COVID-19 symptomsImmediately
You were exposed to someone with COVID-19At least 5 days after your exposure
If you test negative for COVID-19, consider testing again 1 to 2 days after your first test
You are going to an indoor event or a gathering
Immediately before the gathering, or as close to the time of the event as possible
This is especially important before gathering with individuals at risk of severe diseaseolder adults, those who are immunocompromised, or people who are not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines, including children who cannot get vaccinated yet.

How to use a rapid COVID-19 test

Read the complete manufacturer’s instructions for use before using the test.

  • To use an at-home test, you will collect a nasal specimen and then test that specimen.
  • If you do not follow the manufacturer’s instructions, your test result may be incorrect.
  • Wash your hands before and after you collect a nasal specimen for your test.

What your test result means



  • The test did not detect the virus, but doesn’t rule out an infection.
  • You should get a laboratory-based PCR test or use another rapid test in 48 hours if you have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • If you have symptoms, stay home and contact your medical provider to ask about further treatment and testing.

Where to get a rapid test

Free rapid tests are available at all three El Paso County Public Health locations by visiting the public health reception desk:

  • Citizens Service Center, 1675 W. Garden of the Gods Rd. Suite 2044, Colorado Springs, CO 80907, Second Floor Reception Desk
  • El Paso County Public Health South, 6436 U.S. Highway 85-87, Fountain, CO, 80817, Reception Desk
  • Valley Hi Public Health location, 2948 E. Fountain Blvd., Colorado Springs, CO, 80910, Reception Desk

Rapid tests are also available for purchase at pharmacies, grocery stores and other retail locations.


Call (719) 578-3220 for questions about rapid tests.