COVID-19 Testing

If you have COVID-19 symptoms or questions about your health related to COVID-19, a number of options are available. You can use an online format with our chatbot Clare, contact our COVID-19 Nurse Hotline (833-673-5669) available 24/7, or reach out to your primary care provider.

Your provider might recommend you get tested for novel coronavirus (COVID-19). While not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19, your provider might suggest testing as part of your care, either in the hospital or one of our clinics.

Testing: What to Expect


There are several types of testing available, such as antigen, antibody or PCR. Your health care provider will determine the type of test you will need.

During a viral test, a swab that looks like a long Q-tip is used to collect a sample from inside your nose. You will usually be asked to tilt your head back, then the swab will be inserted through your nose into your nasal cavity. You may be directed to self-collect a nasal specimen while under our supervision and guidance.

This swab can be uncomfortable, but it should not be painful. The discomfort lasts only a few seconds. You may be asked to blow your nose or breathe through your mouth to make the collection process easier.

The swab collects cells from inside your respiratory tract to be checked for the presence of COVID-19. A specimen can be collected using a single swab, or each nostril may be swabbed as part of the test.

Depending on the type of test, the swab is sent to a laboratory for analysis or checked at the clinic location.

Billing & Insurance

If you receive a COVID-19 test from OSF HealthCare, OSF will invoice your insurance to cover its portion of the cost of the test. You may or may not have an out-of-pocket cost, depending on your insurance plan. 

Results: What They Mean

Results of a COVID-19 test are usually available within 24 to 48 hours, unless you qualify for a rapid test within a clinic, in which case results may be available sooner.

There are three possible results of a COVID test:

  • If you test positive for COVID-19, your provider will give you advice about what to do next. You can also call 833-OSF-KNOW (833-673-5669) – a free, 24-hour hotline – for more information about where and how to receive care.
  • If you test negative for COVID-19, you will receive guidance from your provider and should continue to monitor yourself for symptoms.
  • A very small number of tests may be inconclusive. If your result cannot be determined, your provider may recommend you get tested again.

Testing & Variant Strains

Viruses like the one that causes COVID-19 constantly change. Scientists have detected multiple variants, or strains, of this virus throughout the world.

Of concern to some is a variant first detected in the U.K., known as B117.

If a mutation changes a virus enough, it can be difficult to detect with current tests. This is not the case with this strain.

OSF has confirmed that tests performed in our laboratories will detect this variant and continue to give reliable results.