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 symptoms||Immediately|
|You were exposed to someone with COVID-19||At 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 disease, older 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 detected the virus and you have an infection.
- Follow isolation guidance.
- Tell your close contacts.
- Wear a well-fitted mask when around others. If available, a N95 or KN95 respirator is recommended.
- Watch for symptoms. If you have any emergency warning signs, seek emergency care immediately.
- Contact your health care provider as soon as possible to determine if you are eligible for treatment. Tell your provider if:
- Your symptoms get worse.
- You are more likely to get very sick because you are an older adult or have an underlying medical condition.
- You have questions about your isolation.
- 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.