Where to Get Tested
Use the guide below to determine the best testing facility for your needs:
COVID-19 has a variety of symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Getting tested gives you the power to stop the spread to friends and loved ones. Care and testing is available through many providers in Alexandria, whether or not you have insurance. Talk to the facility directly about identification requirements and whether you qualify for free or reduced cost care.
Test results provide information about one point in time. Since COVID-19 can take between 2-14 days to incubate, the Alexandria Health Department (AHD) recommends waiting about 7-10 days after a gathering, travel, or close contact with someone positive with COVID-19 before you get tested. Stay away from others while you wait the 7-10 days to get tested to avoid potential exposure to others. You may also become exposed to the virus or develop COVID-19 after your test, therefore, a negative test result doesn’t mean you should stop wearing a mask or maintaining 6 feet of physical distance from those who don’t live in your household.
If AHD has directed you to quarantine for 14 days because you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, AHD does not recommend ending quarantine early if you receive a negative test result.
Free Testing Kiosks Now Available
As part of efforts to expand access to testing options, the City and the Alexandria Health Department (AHD) have launched free kiosk-based testing sites in partnership with the private testing company Curative.
The kiosks offer a testing swab that is self-administered under the supervision of a Curative worker. Appointments are encouraged and may be made at Curative.com. Walk-up testing is also available. Kiosk service is available in English and Spanish.
A Positive Test Result
A positive COVID-19 test doesn’t mean you have to quarantine forever, but there are several steps you must take to improve your health and protect those around you.
The “What To Do If You Get Sick” worksheet outlines steps for how long to stay away from others and who to contact after receiving a positive test result (also available in Spanish, Amharic, Arabic and Farsi).
You will receive a call from AHD as part of their case investigation, to figure out who your close contacts are and to connect you with needed resources while you stay home. Read more about what happens when you get a call.
It is critical to monitor your symptoms after a positive test. While most people may have mild symptoms, COVID-19 can become severe regardless of age or underlying conditions. Seek medical attention immediately if you develop trouble breathing, pain or pressure in the chest; new confusion; bluish lips or face; or inability to wake or stay awake.
Quarantine is Not Forever
While isolating yourself from others after contracting COVID-19 is one of the most important things you can do to stop the spread, it doesn’t last forever.
Determining when you can be around others depends on a number of factors, use the When You Can Be Around Others chart to help determine when it’s safe to leave your home and be around others (also available in Spanish, Amharic and Arabic). On December 2, the CDC released additional quarantine guidance using a test and symptom based strategy that carries a higher risk of unknowingly spreading infection. AHD continues to strongly recommend a 14 day period for quarantine, and a minimum of 10 days for isolation.
A Negative Test Result
A negative test means you were not infected with COVID-19 at the time your specimen was collected. However, a negative test does not mean that you will not get sick.
It is possible that you were very early in your infection when your sample was collected and that you could test positive later. You could also be exposed later and then develop the illness.
As always, take precautions to stay safe, such as wearing a mask over your nose and mouth, and maintaining at least 6 feet of physical distance.
For questions about COVID-19, call the Alexandria COVID-19 Hotline at 703.746.4988, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.