I have symptoms that I think might be COVID-19. Do I need a test?

Patients can now schedule a COVID-19 test directly in Patient Gateway. Tests can be scheduled for symptoms, exposure, or elective reasons. If you schedule a test, you will see results in Patient Gateway as soon as they are available. Results are available within 48 hrs. You can find a tip sheet for help scheduling a COVID test here.

If there are no appointments available, please try a different location or check back later. Massachusetts and New Hampshire also have other testing options. If you live somewhere else, check your state website for resources. We also have community vans that offer limited COVID-19 tests on select days and times; no appointment needed. Please view the schedule for when we will be in your neighborhood.

If you do not have a Patient Gateway account, you can sign up by going to Patient Gateway and clicking “Enroll Now.” You can also call your doctor’s office if you need to schedule a test without using Patient Gateway. 

You can also use a home testing kit (often called antigen tests). Read more information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about home testing. Please do not go to the emergency room or urgent care only to get a COVID-19 test.

Should I isolate or quarantine?

If you test positive for COVID-19, you should isolate. If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should quarantine. Read more from the CDC.

Guidance around the need for quarantine and testing after an exposure is changing. See the CDC, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, or your state website for the most up-to-date guidance.

Note that most Massachusetts public schools are following the Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidance. However, some schools may have different guidelines. Please call your child’s school to find out what their specific policy is on quarantining if your child has been exposed.

Am I at high risk for severe COVID-19?

High-risk conditions for severe COVID-19 include undergoing treatment for cancer, currently taking medications for transplant, or immunosuppressant medications for other conditions. Other high-risk conditions, including having chronic lung, kidney, or liver disease; diabetes; HIV; obesity; and age 65 years or older, may pre-dispose you to worse symptoms from COVID-19 or influenza. The CDC has more information.

I tested positive. I’m not at high risk for severe disease. I’m worried about my symptoms. What should I do?

Mild symptoms: Stay home and isolate

Mild symptoms are a temperature below 100 degrees (below 102.4 degrees for children older than 3 months), aches and pains, or a mild cough. If you have these symptoms, stay at home and isolate. Rest, drink plenty of fluids, and monitor your symptoms. Hopefully, you will start feeling better within a few days. You do not need to contact your doctor to let them know you have COVID. 

Moderate symptoms: Call your primary care office

If you have moderate symptoms like a fever higher than 100.4 degrees, significant coughing, or shortness of breath, contact your primary care provider’s office. 

For children ages 3 months and older who are not immunocompromised, a high fever is greater than 102.4 degrees. If your child has a fever, significant coughing or shortness of breath, you also should call their primary care provider’s office. You should also call if they are sleepier, if they have not gone to the bathroom in more than 10 hours (if 3 years or older) or more than 8 hours (if younger than 3 years old). Your child’s doctor can recommend next steps.

If you don’t have a primary care provider or you have symptoms that need immediate attention, try our Urgent Care options:

  1. Schedule an appointment with Mass General Brigham Virtual Urgent Care.

    Mass General Brigham offers convenient, high-quality virtual urgent care services if you an established Mass General Brigham patient in Massachusetts. If you have concerns about COVID-19 or COVID-like symptoms, you can virtually and securely connect to a provider. Please note: Virtual Urgent Care is only for patients ages 3 and older.

    Learn more about virtual visits
  2. Visit one of our in-person Urgent Care centers.

Severe symptoms: Emergency

Go to the Emergency Department if you have severe symptoms such as:

  • Severe trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or dizziness
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone

If you cannot get to the emergency department, call 9-1-1.

I tested positive and I’m at high risk for severe disease. I am worried about my symptoms. What should I do?

Call your primary care provider’s office.

You may be eligible for outpatient COVID treatment.

Updated April 12, 2022