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COVID-19 Testing

When do I need to take a test for COVID-19?

We recommend a test:

  • If you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
  • If you had a close contact exposure to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 10 days. A close contact exposure is defined as:
    - Less than 6 feet apart
    - For a cumulative 15 minutes or greater within a 24-hour period
  • If you need testing before a procedure or in coordination with health care.

CentraCare also offers pre-travel COVID-19 testing, either a NAAT or a PCR test. Our PCR tests are sent to Mayo, so results may take up to five days. Make sure you research the type of COVID-19 test, timeline and documentation required for your destination.

Please note that we do NOT offer pre-event/pre-activity COVID-19 testing at our curbside, clinic, emergency room and urgent care sites. In these instances, we encourage you to utilize an at-home COVID-19 test or find a community testing site that can fulfill your needs.

For testing questions, call CentraCare Connect at 320-200-3200.

Where can I talk to someone about my symptoms or find care options?

Visit CentraCare eClinic or call 320-200-3200 to speak with a nurse.

How do I schedule a COVID-19 test?

Online scheduling is available for testing locations in Waite Park, Monticello and Paynesville. Or you may call CentraCare Connect at 320-200-3200.

For testing in Albany, Long Prairie, Melrose and Sauk Centre, call CentraCare Connect at 320-200-3200 to schedule.

What type of COVID-19 test should I take?

In general, there are two types of diagnostic tests for COVID-19: molecular and antigen. At CentraCare, we focus on molecular testing. These tests detect the virus’s genetic material and are considered highly accurate. You might hear these tests referred to as a “PCR” amongst others. Although results are typically available within 72 hours, it may take up to 7 days to get results, depending on the volumes of tests being conducted.

On the other hand, antigen tests look for specific proteins on the surface of the virus. These tests are often done at community sites, businesses or at home. While they can produce results quickly, they may not be as accurate. However, a positive antigen test is considered a probable case of COVID-19.

At CentraCare, we have worked hard to secure a variety of molecular tests. However, quantities are not unlimited. For this reason, we have set criteria around testing resources to make sure the right test is available for the right situation. Do not request a particular type of COVID-19 test. Please know the best COVID-19 test is the one available to you.

For more information about COVID-19 tests, visit:

Can I decide if I want a throat or nose swab?

No. Collection source (throat or nose) is determined by the type of COVID-19 test used and FDA/manufacturer instructions.

How do I know the testing team got a good swab?

The CentraCare staff collecting your test sample have gone through training for optimizing sample collection.

If my test is positive, what do I do?

If your test returns a positive result, assume you are positive and maintain isolation per the guidance of CDC or MDH. A positive result does not need to be verified with another test.

After testing positive for COVID-19, should I get another test?

We do not recommend COVID-19 testing for patients without symptoms who have previously tested positive within the past 90 days. There may be a few exceptions, including if symptoms reappear within 90 days. Discuss with your health care provider.

Please do not retake a COVID-19 test multiple times waiting for a positive test to turn to negative. Simply follow the isolation or quarantine guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) before returning to work, school or normal activities.

If my test is negative, what do I do? Do I need to repeat the test?

If you have tested negative and have symptoms, stay home until your symptoms improve. If you were exposed and tested negative but later developed symptoms, maintain quarantine and ask your provider about testing again.

How long does it take to get results?

Although results are typically available within 72 hours, it may take up to 7 days to get results from your COVID-19 test. Patients who sign up and use MyChart, which provides online access to your medical records, will receive their results sooner.

If your test result is positive, you will receive a phone call from a health care provider or public health representative. In addition to MyChart, negative results will be sent to you by mail.

How much does it cost to have a COVID-19 diagnostic test?

The charge for a COVID-19 diagnostic test at CentraCare is $115.50.