Last updated May 12, 2022.
Testing for COVID-19
Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have learned how important it is to layer strategies to protect ourselves, loved ones, and community from COVID-19. In Colorado, it’s easy to get a free, fast, and safe COVID-19 test. Through ongoing testing, Coloradans can help slow the spread of COVID-19.
How to find a free COVID-19 test near you
There are many free community and pharmacy-based testing sites across Colorado that provide PCR test results within two days. Making an appointment is easy, and many free community testing sites do not require insurance or ID.
Additionally, many locations across the state are partnering with CDPHE to distribute rapid tests that provide a result in 15 minutes. There is a limited amount of supplies available, and it is possible a location may not have supply on-hand when you visit. Please be patient and respectful of our partner distribution locations.
To find a PCR test near you, click on the yellow markers for testing site information. To find a rapid test distribution site, click on the blue markers. You can also view a list of community (PCR) testing sites by city.
Tip: Click on the small rectangle with an arrow in the top-left of the map to see a color-coded map legend.
How do I get tested?
Anyone who wants a test should get one. Many Coloradans can get tested through their health care provider if they feel sick. Colorado also provides access to free tests at community testing sites and rapid test distribution centers. Additionally, every home in the United States is eligible to order two sets of four free at-home tests using COVIDtest.gov.
Most people with a health plan can get an at-home over-the-counter COVID-19 test online or from a retail store. As long as the test kit is authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), many insurance plans will cover the cost or reimburse you.
Beginning Saturday, January 15, 2022, Health First Colorado and Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) will pay for at-home COVID-19 tests for members. You can get free at-home tests only at pharmacies that serve Health First Colorado and CHP+ members.
As of March 2022, Coloradans can use the federal Test to Treat program to seek both testing and antiviral treatment. In this program, people can get tested for COVID-19 or bring the results of a home test, get a prescription for treatment from a health care provider (if appropriate), and have their prescription filled all at one location (if they are positive and treatments are appropriate). Find a Test to Treat location using ASPR’s COVID-19 Medication Map. You can also view a list of Colorado’s “One-Stop Test to Treat” sites.
How do I know if I am receiving a quality test?
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have a PDF infographic about what to look out for when you are getting tested. This PDF includes information about how to file a complaint if a testing site is of poor quality or may be a scam.
When do my tests expire?
Rapid tests have an expiration date printed on the box next to an hourglass icon or the words “use by.”
Rapid tests are currently under FDA Emergency Use Authorization and as such, expiration dates may be extended past the date printed on the box. Please use this resource to look up lot numbers and find current extended expiration dates as authorized by the FDA.
Who should get tested?
Anyone who wants a test should get one.
If you have been around someone who has COVID-19, you should get tested five days after you were exposed, even if you are fully vaccinated. If you are unvaccinated and were exposed to someone with COVID-19, follow instructions on how to quarantine.
Federal law requires up to two weeks paid leave for those who work for employers with fewer than 500 employees (though some employers with 50 or fewer employees may be exempt). The Colorado Health Emergency Leave with Pay Rules (“Colorado HELP Rules”) adds coverage for workers as well.
Additionally, there are many resources available to help you if you need to isolate or quarantine, including personal financial help and assistance with affording and obtaining food.
What if I test positive for COVID-19?
If you test positive for COVID-19, follow instructions on how to isolate.
You may be able to get treatment to help you recover from COVID-19. This can help keep you from getting seriously sick and keep you out of the hospital. Coloradans can get a test and a prescription for treatment (if appropriate) in a seamless experience using the federal Test to Treat program. Learn more about treatment for COVID-19.
Types of tests
- A molecular amplification test looks for genetic material from the COVID-19 virus. Most molecular tests for COVID-19 are called PCR tests. However, there are a few other molecular tests that are not called PCR.
- PCR is one the most reliable ways to test for COVID-19.
- Some molecular tests give rapid results and can be used at home.
- An antigen test can quickly detect pieces of proteins from the virus that causes COVID-19. Rapid at-home over-the-counter and point-of-care tests are usually antigen tests.
- The test is similar to a rapid flu test. It requires your nose to be swabbed. Most antigen tests give you results in about 15 minutes.
- Learn more about how to use an at-home antigen test.
- A serological test is a blood test that looks for antibodies in your blood. It can detect the body’s immune response to the infection caused by the virus, rather than detecting the virus itself.
- While these tests can detect previous exposure to COVID-19, they can’t tell if a patient is currently infected and able to spread the virus to others. We don’t recommend using these tests to find out if you currently have COVID-19.
- More information about serological testing can be found in CDC’s Interim Guidelines for COVID-19 Antibody Testing.