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For more data on Delaware COVID cases, testing and outcomes, including demographic breakdowns, go to My Healthy Community

Testing Frequently Asked Questions

Anyone can get tested for COVID-19 – even those without symptoms. Immediate testing is highly encouraged for those with symptoms. Testing is also highly encouraged for anyone who was told by a Delaware Contact Tracer, that they may have been exposed to, or were a contact of, someone with COVID-19. Close contacts should only be tested AFTER their recommended 14-day quarantine period has ended, because the test may become positive at any point during the 14 days after exposure.

Lastly, those with frequent or high-risk contact with others including health care workers, first responders, those in the hospitality (food/hotel) industry, and critical infrastructure personnel, are recommended to obtain testing at regular intervals even when they do not have symptoms. We recommend you examine the table below to see if you work in a job which is recommended to undergo routine testing.

If you are sick with any of the following symptoms, stay home: fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, chills, shaking with chills, headache, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, loss of smell or taste. Other symptoms such as abdominal pain or lack of appetite have been identified as potential symptoms related to COVID-19 and may prompt further screening, action or investigation by a medical provider.

People with symptoms, or those who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, should contact their primary care provider (PCP) for testing or referral so the provider can coordinate care. They can also visit a State of Delaware community-based testing site; no referral is needed.

Symptomatic persons without a PCP can call DPH at 1-866-408-1699 (text 7-1-1 for deaf or hard of hearing), or the ChristianaCare (1-302-733-1000). Bayhealth (1-302-310-8477), or Beebe (302-645-3200) Call Centers for screening and scheduling.

People with no symptoms (asymptomatic individuals) can visit a State of Delaware community-based testing site.

Visit to find a testing location near you.

Some employers may offer their own testing plans or options. Check with your supervisor or Human Resources section if you have questions.

The two general types of COVID-19 tests include an “active infection” test (a PCR test) to look for presence of the virus that causes COVID-19, or an “immune response” test (an antibody test) to look for evidence of previous infection.

Different types of PCR tests include a deep nasal swab, a shallow nasal swab that swabs only at the front of the nostrils, a throat swab, or a swab that captures saliva (used at community-based tests). There are also PCR tests such as the LabCorp pixel test that can be performed by yourself at home. For many people, including those without health insurance, the test may come with no upfront cost. The test is a painless swab of the front of the nose that is mailed to LabCorp, and results are received electronically. More information is available here:

Antibody tests can be performed with a finger stick or via a tube of blood drawn by a qualified healthcare provider. Antibody tests for COVID-19 are available through healthcare providers and laboratories. Check with your healthcare provider to see if they offer antibody tests and whether you should get one.

The length of time varies. Test results coming from a community-based testing event, using the Curative oral/saliva swabs will come back within 72 hours for those who provided an e-mail upon registration. Those who did not provide an email can expect a phone call from a DPH representative approximately five days after taking the test. Most tests sent to the DPH State Lab are processed within 24 to 48 hours, however, the length of time can vary depending upon the number of tests being run that day. If a sample is sent to, and processed by, a commercial lab, your results may take longer as they are sent out of state for testing.

Testing run by the State of Delaware at community-based sites are free, however if you have health insurance, you may be asked to provide that information. If your doctor refers you to a hospital testing site, it is also free, but the hospital system bills your insurer, including Medicaid. Tests are free for uninsured persons.

Those with symptoms should get tested immediately and consult with your health care provider to see if, or how frequently, they recommend re-testing. Close contacts of positive cases should get tested once, after the end of their 14-day quarantine period. There are no recommendations on re-testing.

Testing is available for people without symptoms who may just want to know their status. Those who have more frequent interactions with friends or strangers, especially if you or they are not using face coverings or social distancing, may wish to get tested once a month. Additionally, it’s a good idea to know your status if you plan to have close contact with someone who is older or has a chronic health condition. Frequent, recurring testing is not recommended for the general public at this time. However, the Division of Public Health (DPH) may advise you of the need for testing if ongoing monitoring suggests that COVID-19 disease rates are increasing in your area. DPH also recommends testing on a routine basis (at least once a month) be considered for employees in certain occupations, which are listed in the table below.

The chart below has some recommendations on how frequently you should get tested.

Population Frequency Notes
Symptomatic Persons When symptoms occur Re-testing based on medical guidance of provider
Close Contacts of COVID-19 cases (Asymptomatic) Once At conclusion of quarantine (Day 15)
General Asymptomatic Population When community data indicates an increase in cases Targeted community testing events based on epidemiology data

Maybe. Staff in some occupations work with people at higher risk for contracting the disease, like in health care, or long-term care facilities. Or, they have more frequent contact with members of the general public who may not be social distancing or wearing face coverings, like in the retail or hospitality (food/hotel) industries.

Most health care workers and first responders are recommended to be tested once every 4 weeks, and most other critical infrastructure personnel are recommended to be tested at least once a month, however your employer may decide you should be tested more frequently. Discuss with your employer if they have made any arrangements for scheduled testing.

Testing on a routine basis (at least once a month) should be considered for employees in these occupations. Increased testing may be needed if an outbreak occurs:

  • Retail operations
  • Food Service
  • Cosmetology, tattoo and massage
  • Education, including Early Childhood
  • Dentistry
  • Postmortem care
  • Social services and home visitors
  • Meat and poultry processing
  • Manufacturing
  • Laboratory
  • Airline and other transport operations
  • Volunteers providing frontline services
  • Border protection and transportation security
  • Correctional facility operations
  • Solid waste and wastewater management
  • Environmental (i.e., janitorial) services
Population Frequency Notes
Correctional Facilities
Incarcerated Persons Twice At booking and at conclusion of quarantine (Day 15) prior to release into general population
Post-Acute Care Facilities (non-outbreak conditions)
Asymptomatic Residents Once every 4 weeks Testing on a rotating basis (e.g., 25% of residents each week)
Asymptomatic Staff Once every week Testing on a rotating basis (e.g., 20% of staff daily)
Congregate Settings
Shelters Twice At facility admission, as well as testing on a rotating basis (e.g., 25% of all persons each week)
Custodial Care Sites (such as Group Homes) Twice At facility admission, as well as testing on a rotating basis (25% of all persons each week)
Workforce and Community
Asymptomatic Health care Workers and First Responders Once every 4 weeks Testing on a rotating basis e.g., 25% of staff each week)
Asymptomatic Critical Infrastructure Personnel (non-healthcare/first responder) Once a month minimum Testing can be more frequent, but no more frequent than once every 14 days.

A variety of testing options exist. Employers should encourage workers to get tested through their occupational health services or through primary care providers. Hospital and community testing sites throughout the state are also available.

Employers may choose to provide their own testing events in partnership with commercial laboratories or health system partners. Some employers may be interested in partnering with LabCorp for COVID-19 at-home tests. These kits can be shipped to anyone who meets screening criteria. LabCorp can file a claim with any individual’s insurance or utilize federal funds to cover the cost of the test.

For a list of testing resources available to employers, click here.

For the full guidance on testing for employers, click here.