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What you need to know about COVID-19 testing in Arizona

Over the last few weeks especially — as COVID-19 cases have been on the rise in Arizona — my office has heard from many who need help navigating how to get a test for the virus.

First things first: If you experience any symptoms or come into contact with someone who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or has tested positive, you absolutely should get tested. So much of the spread we’re seeing in our community is because asymptomatic people are unknowingly infecting others.

Depending on where you live and when you have time to go, you may have to wait a few days for an available testing appointment. But we’ve put together resources to make it easier — to help you plan where and when to get a COVID-19 test that best meets the needs of you and your family.

Read this guide in Spanish here.

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There are two types of tests available: viral tests and antibody tests.

Viral tests are nose or mouth swab or saliva tests. They are more abundant and available and tell you if you currently have COVID-19. Viral tests are also called polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or diagnostic tests. These tests have technical differences, but they’re all done the same way.

Antibody tests are finger prick or blood draw tests and are generally less abundant and available. These tests tell you if you have had COVID-19 in the past or before the test, as antibodies take weeks to develop.

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While viral tests are largely free and have little to no symptom requirements, most antibody tests and some viral tests can cost between $50 and $200, but you should ask your insurance provider if they cover any kind of paid test you are considering. Depending on where you live and when you have time to go, you may have to wait a few days for an opening if you aren’t currently showing symptoms. Again, while most viral testing is free or nearly free with insurance, most sites require insurance or government assistance, and those that do not are in highest demand.

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You can find a testing site near you online. Most partners listed on that website offer tests for free to those who meet criteria established by the CDC. And although health insurance should cover any costs, don’t expect to pay unless you are told ahead of time. If you’re unsure about the extent of your coverage or are worried about costs, reach out to the testing partner directly or call 211 for more information. You can get tested regardless of your immigration status through sliding-fee-schedule clinics.

There are hundreds of testing sites in Arizona, most of which are in the Phoenix metro area. Depending on where you live and when you have time to go, you may have to wait a few days for an opening if you don’t show symptoms. If you want to get a test out of an abundance of caution, you should plan ahead.

As the demand for testing goes up, lines will remain long and results may lag. Several groups offer free testing without any doctor’s referral, symptoms or other criteria: Arizona State University, CVS, Walgreens,and Equality Health Foundation.

If you are a university student not currently in the district, you can find free testing through Arizona’s three public universities: Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona, through the Arizona Department of Health Services’ (AZDHS) testing page or through Maricopa County’s updated list of community testing events.

Please know that turnaround times and availability can be affected by high demand. You can learn more about what health experts suggest you do before and after you take your COVID-19 test by reading our office’s COVID-19 Community Resource Guide.

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You can find several dozens of testing sites across several providers in Maricopa County alone, by searching the AZDHS testing page.

Most tests are provided through drive-thrus to avoid contact, some provide in-person appointments, but all require patients to wear facemasks on-site. If a drive-thru site is closer or more convenient for you than an in person site, especially if you do not have access to a vehicle, contact the provider to see if they can make an exception.

Below are the most popular providers that serve our congressional district. Testing hours of operation depend on location, demand and availability, but most providers offer tests every day.

Arizona State University

ASU offers viral saliva tests at dozens of locations across the state. To register, make an account with ASU and find a place and time that works for you. ASU will email you a reminder of your appointment, as well as your results. For the test to be accurate, do not eat or drink for at least 30 minutes before your test. If you have questions, AZDHS regularly updates upcoming testing events and posts sign up information and frequently asked questions here.

Banner Urgent Care

Urgent Care offers viral swab and PCR tests at dozens of locations across the state. To register, find a place and time that works for you through Banner’s patient portal. Banner will email you an appointment reminder and call you to perform a screening and will email your results. You can find answers to frequently asked questions here.

CVS

CVS offers viral rapid-result and PCR tests at dozens of locations across the state. To register, answer a short symptom survey to see if you qualify and find a place and time that works for you. CVS will email you a reminder of your appointment, as well as your results. You can find answers to frequently asked questions here.

Embry Women’s Health

Embry Women’s Health partners with community health and wellness organizations to offer no-cost viral swab across the state and saliva testing in Maricopa County. To register, find a place and time that works for you through their patient portal. The site you select will email you an appointment reminder, as well as your results when they are recorded. You can find answers to frequently asked questions here.

Equality Health Foundation

Equality Health Foundation partners with Sonora Quest Laboratories to provide free pop-up drive-thru viral swab testing events around the Valley. Sign up here to receive regular updates for upcoming testing events in your area. You can find answers to frequently asked questions here.

Sonora Quest Laboratories

Sonora Quest Laboratories is the largest provider of viral and antibody tests in Arizona and has dozens of testing locations and health and wellness partners who help reach underserved communities. To register, find a place and time that works for you through Sonora Quest’s patient portal or look through its testing location map. Sonora Quest will email you a reminder of your appointment and can email, call or fax you your results when they are ready. You can find answers to frequently asked questions here.

Walgreens

Walgreens offers viral rapid antigen, rapid diagnostic and PCR tests at dozens of locations across the state. To register, answer a short symptom survey to see if you qualify and find a place and time that works for you. Walgreens will email you a reminder of your appointment, as well as your results. You can find answers to frequently asked questions here.

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Antibody tests are generally more available, offered by fewer providers and more expensive across Arizona. A positive test will not show when you contracted the virus, it will only tell you if you have ever contracted it.

Public health experts are asking people to not take a positive result as permission to do whatever they want. Scientists are still learning more about COVID-19, and it’s not guaranteed that if you’ve already had the virus you are protected from getting it again. It’s also not yet known whether you can still spread it to others.

Regardless of your result, public health experts are encouraging people to continue practicing healthy habits to protect themselves and their community. Consider getting a viral test if you think you may have been in contact in the last two weeks with someone who could have had the virus.

Sonora Quest Laboratories

Sonora Quest Laboratories is the largest provider of viral and antibody tests in Arizona and has dozens of testing locations and health and wellness partners who help reach underserved communities. To register, get a doctor’s order, schedule an appointment and choose “COVID-19 antibody testing to visit a Sonora Quest Patient Service Center. Sonora Quest will email you a reminder of your appointment and can email, call or fax you your results when they are ready. You can find answers to frequently asked questions here.

University of Arizona

The University of Arizona partners with local health and wellness organizations to provide antibody testing in nearly every part of the state. To register, find a place and time that works for you through the university’s website. The university will email you with a reminder of your appointment, as well as your results. You can find answers to frequently asked questions here.

Again, you can learn more about what health experts suggest you do before and after you take your COVID-19 test by reading our office’s COVID-19 Community Resource Guide. If you cannot find what you are looking for, my staff may be able to help. You can call my office at (602) 956–2463.

Proudly serving Arizona’s 9th Congressional District

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