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How Can You Get Tested For COVID-19 During The Holidays? Here’s What You Need To Know

The latest COVID-19 surge comes as people are gathering for Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year's. Here's how to get tested in Chicago and stay safe.

A technician gives instruction as folks line up for free COVID-19 tests at Pritzker College Prep in Chicago's Hermosa neighborhood on Monday, November 30, 2020.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — COVID-19 cases are surging across Chicago, with the city in a fifth wave of the outbreak, officials said Tuesday.

The surge comes as people are gathering for Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year’s — and those gatherings could lead to more cases spreading, officials have warned. They’ve advised people to get tested before gatherings and to avoid gathering if they think they have COVID-19 or have tested positive.

Here’s what you need to know about testing:

Who Should Get Tested?

Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said Tuesday people should get tested if they are gathering for the holidays. She’s also said people who are sick should get tested.

Here are the city health department’s recommendations for people who should get tested:

  • People who have symptoms of COVID-19, even people who have been fully vaccinated.
  • People who have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
  • If you are unvaccinated and participated in a high-risk activity, like a large gathering.
  • As recommended by Chicago’s travel advisory.

When Should I Get Tested?

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, get tested immediately, according to the city health department.

Here’s what to do if you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19 but do not have symptoms, according to the city health department:

  • If you’re fully vaccinated: Get tested five to seven days after the exposure. You do not have to quarantine if you do not have symptoms, but you should watch yourself for symptoms and wear a mask indoors for 14 days if you do not test or until you get a negative test result.
  • If you’re partially vaccinated or unvaccinated: Get tested immediately after learning of your exposure and get tested immediately if you develop symptoms of COVID-19. If the test is negative, test again five to seven days after the exposure. You are required to quarantine for at least 10 days after your last contact with someone with COVID-19. Watch yourself for symptoms of COVID-19 and stay away from people you live with, if possible. You can stop quarantining after seven days if you get a negative test result from a test taken on or after the fifth day after you were exposed.

How Do I Find A Testing Site In Chicago?

At-home tests

You can buy rapid at-home COVID-19 tests from stores like Walgreens, CVS and Jewel-Osco. But they’ve flown off the shelves in recent weeks — some chains are even limiting how many a person can buy at once — which means they might be sold out in your local stores.

You can call ahead or try to place a pick-up order online to check availability.


Testing sites

You can search this website to find health centers performing COVID-19 tests in and around Chicago.

City of Chicago sites

The Chicago Department of Public Health has community-based testing that is free for Chicago residents. Here are the sites:

  • RUSH Little Village, 3960 W. 26th St. Available 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday and 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays.
  • Esperanza Brighton Park, 4700 S. California Ave. Available 8 a.m.-3:50 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, Fridays and Saturdays.


Check the Illinois Department of Public Health’s list and map for testing sites.

You can search this website to find Illinois Department of Public Health community-based testing sites in and around Chicago.

Pediatric testing sites

You can search this website to find testing sites that will do COVID-19 tests on children.

Doctor’s offices, hospitals, clinics

Contact your primary health care provider, hospital or health care clinic to to see if they are doing COVID-19 tests and how you can make an appointment.

Do The Tests Cost Money?

Testing is typically free, but it could cost money in a few instances to get tested at sites. You must pay for your own at-home tests.

People with health insurance: Health insurers are generally legally required to cover the entire cost of a test, though they may refuse to do so for testing required for travel or required by employers. Some testing sites may also charge a person and advise them to seek reimbursement through their insurer.

People without health insurance: The city health department recommends you ask the testing site if you will have to pay for your test.

Note: Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is completely free regardless of insurance status.

Could Getting Vaccinated Make Me Test Positive For COVID-19?


How Long Does It Take To Get Results?

Rapid tests can provide results in 15 minutes or so. Other tests may take several days. If you need results quickly, check that you are getting a rapid test.

Other Resources

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers.

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