The Boston Public Health Commission encourages residents to help stop the spread of COVID-19, and keep one another safe by getting tested for COVID-19.
Update: On March 29, 2022, the FDA granted a three-month shelf life extension for the iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test. This extends the shelf-life of all iHealth tests with expiration dates on or before 2022-09-29 (YYYY-MM-DD) from six months to nine months.
- are experiencing COVID-like symptoms,
- have been in contact with someone who is infected with COVID-19,
- are planning to attend a large gathering,
- are spending time with others who are at high risk for sever COVID-19,
- or have traveled or been in large gatherings.
Get tested as soon as possible after your symptoms start.
While waiting for test results, wear a mask and stay away from others, including staying apart from those living in your household.
BPHC hosts free walk-in testing sites that are open to all. Testing is available regardless of insurance or immigration status, and will not affect "public charge" rule determinations. There are also several other testing sites across the city. If you need a COVID-19 test check out the City's testing sites.
Other testing centers have varying policies regarding the availability of asymptomatic testing and insurance coverage. Please call ahead. The multilingual Mayor's Health Line (617-534-5050) can help with health insurance applications and navigating the health care system, and answer your COVID-19 questions.
List of testing sitesTesting sites
At-home test kits
At-home rapid tests are an important strategy to protect your friends and family from exposure. Help us stop the spread of COVID-19 in Boston.
At-home tests are now widely available for sale at retail stores. Your insurance plan may cover the cost of at-home tests.
Test kits are not currently available at pickup sites in the community, though some community partners are still distributing test kits to priority populations. We will provide more information as tests become available.
If you test positive, call your healthcare provider immediately to see if you are eligible for COVID-19 treatment. Follow their instructions, and keep them informed of your symptoms. If you have questions, please contact the Mayor’s Health Line at 617-534-5050.
If You Test Positive for COVID-19
If you test positive for COVID-19, call your health care provider right away and begin isolating from others. Contacting a health care provider is important because there are now treatments available for COVID-19.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you must isolate for a minimum of five days, regardless of vaccination status. However, there are individuals who may remain infectious after that isolation period. Check out BPHC's Isolation Guidance for more info.
Contact your healthcare provider immediately, even if your symptoms are mild - you may be eligible for COVID-19 treatment. Don't delay treatment must start early to be effective. Some treatments must begin within five days of your first symptom.
Early treatments that prevent severe illness and hospitalization are available. Options include:
- The state’s in-home COVID-19 Treatment Program.
- Free telehealth appointments for treatment with Paxlovid for individuals 18 or older living in Massachusetts who are positive for COVID-19 and are experiencing symptoms. Telehealth is a quick and easy way to see if Paxlovid, a COVID-19 treatment pill taken, is right for you. If it is, you can pick it up at your local pharmacy or free overnight delivery will be arranged.
- Call Gothams’ COVID-19 Self-Referral Treatment Line (508-213-1380) to speak with a representative about scheduling an infusion appointment at one of their seven sites in Massachusetts, if you are eligible. This line is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- See a map of locations offering therapeutic treatment.
Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus and may include:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of sense of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
- Skin rashes
In elderly, chronically ill, or debilitated individuals such as residents of a long-term care facility, symptoms of COVID-19 may be subtle such as alterations in mental status or in blood glucose control.
If you have emergency warning signs, call 911.
Emergency warning signs include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Pain or pressure in chest
- Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds
- Confused or finding it hard to wake or stay awake
- Other serious symptoms