How to Prepare for a COVID Test   

How to Prepare for a COVID Test

Exposed to COVID? Here’s When to Get Tested
Clinical Contributors to this story:

To ensure that you get an appointment for a COVID-19 test, make phone calls or search online before driving anywhere. Some locations require people to have appointments or prescriptions; others accept walk-ins. A bit of preliminary research will save you the frustration of being turned away when you show up at a testing site.

How to find a COVID-19 testing site

Call your primary care doctor’s office to find out if they recommend a specific testing site in your area. You can also search online for testing sites, then call specific locations, if phone numbers are listed. Some testing sites don’t share their phone numbers and require people to sign up for appointments online.

In New Jersey, places where you may get a COVID-19 test include:

  • public testing sites, including drive-thru locations
  • urgent care facilities
  • local retail pharmacies, including CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens
  • How to prepare for your COVID-19 test

Two things that have never factored into health care visits before may influence your COVID-19 testing experience. Before you go:

  • fully charge your cell phone
  • get a full tank of gas

“Many testing locations need to call patients to give them instructions once they arrive for their test, so it’s important to have a charged phone,” says Michael Rothberg, M.D. lead physician at 5 Hackensack Meridian Urgent Care Centers. “[Also], you may be tested in your vehicle or asked to wait in your vehicle until it’s your turn. Make sure you’ve filled your gas tank, especially during the winter months.”

What to bring to your COVID-19 test

When you go for a COVID-19 test, there are a few things that you should take to the appointment:

  • a mask
  • your driver’s license or other identification
  • your health insurance information
  • a prescription or referral, if it’s required by the testing site
  • water and snacks, if you expect to be in your car for a while
  • any medication that you may need
  • a book, or something to keep yourself busy
  • something to keep your child busy, if they’re getting tested
  • a phone charger

Things to avoid doing when seeking a COVID-19 test

When you go for a COVID-19 test, you should not:

  • bring along anyone who isn’t getting tested, including children, if possible
  • get tested too soon; experts suggest waiting five days after COVID-19 exposure to get tested
  • seek testing at a hospital emergency room

“Only head to the emergency room if you have tested positive for COVID-19 or suspect you have it and are experiencing difficulty breathing, persistent chest pain and a bluish tint to your lips or face,” says Dr. Rothberg.

Other considerations when getting a COVID-19 test

Write down any information that’s shared during your appointment. Since some of the sites are “pop-up” testing sites, it may be difficult or impossible to contact them after you had your test. Make sure to find out how and when you’ll get test results before leaving.

“Demand is high and wait times are long at many testing locations,” says Dr. Rothberg. “The heroes working in testing centers are doing their best to test everyone in a timely matter. Be patient, kind and remember to extend grace and humanity; we are all in this together.”

If you receive a possible result and have questions about your care, call your primary care physician.

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.


Subscribe to get the latest health tips from our expert clinicians delivered weekly to your inbox.

COVID-19 Antibody Testing: Pros & Cons

Many people are interested in finding out if they were previously infected with COVID-19. An antibody test (now more widely available) can provide that answer. But before you run out to get the test, ...

Should You Wear a Mask Outside?

The CDC stresses that we must maintain 6-feet of social distancing from others to continue slowing the spread of coronavirus.

What Makes a Child Tic?

Frequent eye blinking, facial grimacing, shoulder shrugging, sniffling, repetitive throat clearing or uncontrolled vocalization; these are all symptoms of a tic. Our pediatric neurologist shares the most common questions parents ask surrounding their child’s tic.

Reduce Your Fear of Needles

A fear of needles can seem debilitating. Here are some tips to help overcome the phobia.

How to Properly Wear a Facemask

When used correctly, face coverings can help protect those you may come into contact with if you are infected but do not show symptoms.

What Can You Do After You’re Fully Vaccinated Against COVID?

There are advantages to getting fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

We use cookies to improve your experience. Please read our Privacy Policy or click Accept.