Testing

Maryland Statewide Testing Update. Click image for more details.  Opens in new window

Do I Need a Test?

For who should get tested, refer to the CDC for guidance at Testing for Covid-19 Overview 

What Type of Test?

There are multiple types of tests on the market today and they have different purposes and weakness. The three primary tests offered at testing sites are outlined below. When in doubt, contact your primary care or call the Prince George's County Coronavirus Hotline at 301-883-662 and they will recommend a test based on your specific circumstances.  

PCR or Molecular Amplification Diagnostic

  • Detects genetic material from the virus
  • Shows active Covid-19 infection 
  • Best test for highly accurate diagnosis of individual patients and only test recommended in outbreaks
  • Samples taken via nasal or throat swab (most tests) -or- saliva (few tests)
  • Results generally available in 1-2 days. Most molecular diagnostic tests are run in a lab and take time to transport and process. However, there are also “point-of-care” (POC) molecular diagnostic tests that can provide results within 15-45 minutes

Rapid Point-of-Care (Antigen Diagnostic)

  • Detects proteins from the virus
  • Shows active Covid-19 infection but may be less sensitive than a PCR test
  • Samples taken via nasal swab
  • Results can be available in 15-20 minutes. Results are processed using a POC device located onsite. These tests are commonly called “rapid” tests. NOTE: Antigen tests are generally not as accurate as PCR tests and produce more false-negative and false-positive results than PCR tests 

Serology (Antibody)

  • Detects antibodies made by the immune system if the virus was present in the past
  • Shows past Covid-19 infection 
  • Only test from confirming past infections (but does not confirm immunity for future infection)
  • Samples taken via finger stick or blood draw
  • Results available in 1-3 days

Where to Get Tested

There are two primary options for getting tested, a government run site or a private company. The government sponsored sites will request insurance cards if available but do not charge anyone for Covid-19 testing, regardless of circumstances. Private businesses are on a case-by-case basis. To find a testing site and schedule a test, go to:

Prince George's County Covid-19 Testing  

Maryland Dept. of Health Covid-19 Testing