COVID cases and hospitalizations are continuing to climb in Illinois, with the state now averaging more than 6,000 new probable and confirmed COVID-19 cases per day.
It's the first time in more than three months Illinois has seen the daily rate that high.
The good news is, COVID testing across Chicago and at Illinois remains free at many sites. And, the federal government is now offering residents double the number of free COVID rapid antigen tests during its newest round of kit availability, according to an update by the United States Postal Service.
If you're experiencing symptoms, or you believe you've been exposed, here's where you can find free COVID testing near you in Chicago and Illinois, for adults and kids.
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COVID Tests at Walgreens, CVS and Other Pharmacies
Walgreens, CVS and local pharmacies across the state offer appointments for both rapid antigen tests and lab PCR tests. Drive-thru and in-person appointments are available.
COVID results for rapid tests take around 15 minutes, and PCR results are usually delivered in 48 hours or less.
- CVS: Make an appointment at CVS Minute Clinic near you
- Walgreens: Make an appointment at a Walgreens near you
- Quest Diagnostics: Make an appointment at a Quest Diagnostic near you
COVID Rapid Tests at Home
You can sign up to receive 8 free rapid antigen tests from the federal government, to be delivered to your home via the United States Postal Service. Previously, only 4 free kits per person were available. Here's how to get yours.
COVID Tests at Community Health Centers and Other Sites
- Community Health Centers: You can search for community health centers near you across the state that offer COVID testing appointments here
- City of Chicago Community Testing: The city offers several community testing clinics in different neighborhoods. Here's where to find them and when they're open
- Other testing sites across the state: Here's a map of other COVID testing sites in Illinois, with more information listed for each.
Other Ways to Test
Contact your health care provider or doctor about obtaining a COVID test. You may need an appointment in order for a health care provider to order a test for you.
Your health care provider will also record your tests results in your medical record, or provide the necessary paperwork to your employer.
COVID Testing for Kids
- Walgreens: According to Walgreens' website, free COVID drive-thru testing is available for kids 3 and over. Here's how to make an appointment at a Walgreens near you
- Quest Diagnostics: According to the website, Quest Diagnostics offers COVID tests, regardless of symptoms, for kids 2 and over. Make an appointment at a Quest Diagnostic near you
- Pediatrician: Contact your pediatrician's office to make an appointment for your child to get tested. If you do not have a pediatrician, Chicago Public Schools has verified a list of locations that offer pediatric COVID-19 testing in the Chicago area.
What to do if You Test Positive Using an At-Home Test
Those who test positive using an at-home test are asked to follow the latest CDC guidelines and communicate the results to their healthcare provider, who is responsible for reporting test results to the state health department.
According to Chicago-area health departments, people should assume the test results are accurate and should isolate from others to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
"If you test positive for COVID-19, you must isolate," Arwady said. "There is no need to repeat a positive at-home test in a medical setting. We don't want people going into the emergency department just to get a tested. Treat a positive as a positive, stay home and isolate for five days."
How Long After COVID Exposure Could You Test Positive?
According to the CDC, the incubation period for COVID is between two and 14 days, though the newest guidance from the agency suggests a quarantine of five days for those who are not boosted, but eligible or unvaccinated. Those looking to get tested after exposure should do so five days after the exposure or if they begin experiencing symptoms, the CDC recommends.
Those who are boosted and vaccinated, or those who are fully vaccinated and not yet eligible for a booster shot, do not need to quarantine, but should wear masks for 10 days and also get tested five days after the exposure, unless they are experiencing symptoms.
Still, for those who are vaccinated and boosted but are still looking to be cautious, Arwady said an additional test at seven days could help.
"If you're taking multiple at home tests, you know, the recommendation is five days later take a test. But if you have taken one at five and it's negative and you're feeling good, chances are very good that you're not going to have any more issues there," she said. "I think if you're being extra careful there, if you wanted to test again, you know, at seven even, sometimes people look at three to get an earlier sense of things. But if you're gonna do it once do it in five and I feel good about that."
Arwady said testing is likely not necessary after seven days following exposure for those who are vaccinated and boosted.
"If you had an exposure, you're vaccinated and boosted, I don't think that there is any need to be testing, frankly, past about seven days," she said. "If you want to be extra careful, you can do it at 10, but just with what we're seeing, I would consider you really in the clear. If you're not vaccinated or boosted, I certainly have a much higher concern that you could get infected. Definitely, ideally, you'd be seeking out that test at five and I would do it again, you know, at the seven, potentially at that 10."