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Patients and Testing

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COVID-19 Testing

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested with a nasal test. If you have been exposed to COVID-19 but do not have symptoms you should wait at least 3-4 days after exposure before getting tested. The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) recommendation for testing is a PCR (nasal swab) test only. Blood tests for antibodies are not currently recommended for determining illness status.

Testing Recommendations and Requirements Info Sheet

Testing Process

If testing will be conducted at ADPH BCL, the healthcare provider collects a nasopharyngeal, nasal, or oral specimen. The specimen is then put in a viral transport medium and shipped to the State Laboratory for testing. The average time from receipt of the specimen at the BCL to reporting results is usually between 24 to 72 hours. Test results are sent only to the healthcare provider who ordered the test. Do not call ADPH for test results.

Information regarding materials to collect the specimen, how to package the specimen properly, and how to ship the specimen to the BCL is available at Healthcare Providers (see Specimen Collection and Shipping Guidance and Specimen Packaging Instructions).

Home COVID-19 Tests

Every U.S. household is eligible to order 4 free at-home COVID-⁠19 tests at

The State Health Officer has issued a standing order for over-the-counter home COVID-19 tests that have been issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) or are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This standing order can be used as a prescription by licensed pharmacists in Alabama.

Testing Sites

Our COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard and COVID-19 Table provide a list of testing sites in Alabama. These facilities have reported to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) that they are collecting specimens for COVID-19. The lists and dashboard map may not reflect all collection sites in Alabama. Call the testing site for additional information before visiting. Other locations may be found at Search for a location that offers no-cost COVID-19 testing at

Test to Treat Sites

After testing positive and seeing a healthcare provider, eligible individuals going to Test to Treat sites can immediately receive a prescription for oral COVID-19 treatment and have that prescription filled – all at one location in a participating site. A Test to Treat lo​c​ato​​r is available to help find participating sites. Learn more at Test to Treat.

Waiting For Test Results

After persons are tested for COVID-19, they should go home to self-isolate and remain there until their results are reported to them by their healthcare provider. They are not to go anywhere other than home. If a person is being tested for COVID-19 and hospitalized, they will be in isolation prescribed by the facility's Infection Control Office. The decision to discontinue home isolation precautions should be made on a case-by-case basis, in consultation with healthcare providers and ADPH.

Going Back to Work

Whether an individual is a case, they should complete isolation instructions before going back to work – plus – be completely fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medications. Having a repeat test to go back to work is not recommended and is discouraged - except in very specific situations (an individual is immunocompromised).

For General Questions

For general COVID-19 questions, call 1-800-270-7268 or email Telephone calls are answered from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Interpreters are available. For frequently asked questions and to check your symptoms, visit the COVID-19 Information Hub at

Page last updated: January 27, 2023