Looking to get a covid-19 test? Here are some of your options

About an hour ago

As the number of covid-19 cases explodes in the region, more residents are seeking tests and face a number of options. And depending on where you go, waiting for results might take longer, according to health officials.

While there are a number of covid-19 testing sites in the region, many are now requesting appointments as more people are tested.

Some sites are not testing people who show no symptoms.

Health officials advise residents to first call their health provider for advice on testing relative to the severity of their symptoms. If symptoms are severe, residents need to call their doctor or call before they visit an emergency room.

If residents don’t have symptoms but have been exposed to someone with covid-19, it will be harder to find testing because some facilities are no longer providing tests to people who have no symptoms.

The region’s major health care providers, Allegheny Health Network and UPMC provide testing at their hospitals and urgent care centers. However, they differ in criteria for testing.

Residents are urged to call their health providers for direction. For example, AHN is not offering testing for asymptomatic patients while UPMC offers the testing but for residents with a doctor’s order.

UPMC Urgent Care facilities are offering covid-19 testing with a physician’s order.

AHN patients must be experiencing symptoms associated with covid-19 such as fever, shortness of breath and cough to receive a test across AHN collection sites.

To find additional test sites in Allegheny County, visit the county’s health department’s website, and outside of Allegheny County, visit the state Department of Health website.

Residents who do not have access to the Internet can call the PA Health Hotline at 877-724-3258 to find the closest testing site to them.

Fast and not-so-fast testing

The fastest test available to detect the covid-19 virus is an antigen test, which detects a viral infection. It takes between 15 to 30 minutes, said Maggi Mumma, deputy press secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

There are other “rapid” tests that can yield fast results, but depending on the test and where you go, results could take minutes or days, typically three to five days, or longer.

“As the number of people getting tested increases, the wait time for results could increase,” said Amie Downs, Allegheny County spokeswoman. “It is important to go home after getting a covid test and remain home until you receive your results.”

To find out how long test results can take, health authorities suggest contacting the test site and asking.

To learn more about antigen tests, and other rapid tests and where to get them in Pennsylvania, visit the state Department of Health website.

There is no cost at Federally Qualified Health Centers where either health insurance or CARES Act funds cover the costs, Downs said.

The Allegheny County Health Department strongly encourages close contacts of positive covid-19 cases to get tested, Downs said. “It is important for a close contact to know if they are positive in order to inform their close contacts to be tested.”

But Mumma said a test isn’t always needed.

“If someone experiences mild symptoms, they are encouraged to recover at home without medical care,” she said.

Mild symptoms include fever, chills, cough, fatigue, headache and loss of taste.

If someone has mild symptoms and they want to get tested, they could contact their health care provider or schedule an appointment at a local testing site, Mumma said.

“It’s still important to stay home, isolate and avoid contact with others, rest and drink fluids,” she said.

If symptoms worsen, including a fever above 100 degrees, call your health care provider, Mumma said. If you don’t have a health care provider, call the nearest hospital or urgent care to schedule an appointment, she said.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, mthomas@triblive.com or via Twitter .

A sampling of health sites from the state Department of Health for covid-19 tests
Residents can call the PA Health Hotline at 1-877-724-3258 to find the closest testing site to them.
Greensburg area
• CVS, 1706 Theatre St., Latrobe (appointment required, schedule online: cvs.com/minuteclinic/covid-19-testing)
• Excela Health Mobile Testing Site, 449 Frye Farm Road, Greensburg (for Excela patients only, 800-727-9558)
• Latrobe Health Center FQHC, 529 Lloyd Ave., Latrobe (provider order required, 724-699-9211)
• MedExpress Urgent Care, 6510 Route 30, Jeannette (evaluation before test, 724-527-3428)
• MedExpress, 6396 Route 819 South, Mt. Pleasant (724-547-3627)
• Community Health Clinic, Inc., 218 S. Maple Ave, Greensburg, (appointments required, 724-204-1844)
Alle-Kiski Valley
• AHN Alle-Kiski Valley, 1622 Union Ave., Natrona Heights, Harrison (appointments required, 724-224-5100)
• Community Health Clinic, 943 Fourth Ave., New Kensington, (call ahead, people with symptoms only, 724-204-1802)
• MedExpress, 303 E. 10th Ave., Tarentum, 724-224-2770
• UPMC St. Margaret lab, 815 Freeport Road, Aspinwall (appointments required, 412-784-2919)
• Walmart, Pittsburgh Mills mall compound, 2010 Village Center Drive, Frazer, (must have prescription from doctor sent to Quest Diagnostics, 724-274-0260