COVID-19 Testing in Rhode Island

Who should get a COVID-19 test?

You should get tested for COVID-19 if:

  • You have symptoms of COVID-19. Even if you’re symptoms are mild and you’re up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations, you should isolate at home and get tested.
  • You’ve been identified as a close contact of someone who tested positive. Get tested 5 days after the last time you were with that person, even if you don’t have symptoms.
  • You work in a healthcare or congregate setting. Participate in on-site surveillance testing when it is available.

If you don't have symptoms, haven’t recently been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, and don’t work in a healthcare or congregate setting, you don’t need to get tested for COVID-19.

If you recently tested positive for COVID-19, RIDOH does not recommend getting tested again for the following 90 days. Someone who has COVID-19 can continue to get a positive test result for up to 90 days.

  • If you need to provide proof of a current or previous infection to your school or employer, you can submit a letter request to RIDOH using this web form.
  • If you tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days and new symptoms develop, call your healthcare provider, and ask if you should get tested again.

How can I get a COVID-19 test?

There are several ways to get tested for COVID-19 in Rhode Island. Click here to find the test site closest to you.

State-run test sites

Schedule a free test for yourself or a dependent child at a State-run COVID-19 test site. All Rhode Islanders can schedule a test online at portal.ri.gov or by calling 401-222-8022.

You do not need an appointment to get tested at a mobile test site in your community.

Primary care offices

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your primary care provider or child’s pediatrician. Ask if they do point-of-care testing or if they can schedule a test for you.

Test yourself for COVID-19

Kits that you can use to test yourself for COVID-19 are available at some local pharmacies and through online retailers. Sometimes a COVID-19 self-test is also called an at-home test or an over-the counter (OTC) test.

All Rhode Islanders can order free COVID-19 self-test kits directly from the federal government. To learn more, visit covidtests.gov.

To report your self-test result to RIDOH, visit portal.ri.gov/s/selftest.

How can I schedule a COVID-19 test at a State-run test site?

Schedule online: Click here to self-schedule a free COVID-19 test on portal.ri.gov. Anyone over the age of 16 must create their own account. You must have a valid email address to use this online portal.

Schedule by phone: You can schedule a COVID-19 test at a State-run test site by calling RIDOH's COVID-19 Info Line at 401-222-8022. You can also call 211 for help scheduling in multiple languages. 

Making an appointment ahead of time reduces long lines and crowding at test sites. When scheduling, provide a valid cell phone number or email address and confirm your personal details to ensure you get your test result as soon as it’s ready.

You do not need an appointment to get tested at a mobile test site in your community. Results provided at mobile test sites may not meet requirements for travel or for returning to school or work after isolation or quarantine. 

Who can get tested at a State-run site?

All Rhode Islanders can schedule a free COVID-19 test at a State-run test site. You do not need insurance or identification to get tested at a State-run site. 

What type of test will I get at a State-run test site?

When you arrive at a State-run test site, a staff member will ask if you have symptoms of COVID-19.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you will get swabbed twice to collect two specimens. The first swab will be a rapid antigen test. The second swab will be sent to a lab if needed.

  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and your rapid antigen test result is positive, your confirmatory PCR test may not be sent to the lab. You have COVID-19 and should isolate at home.  
  • If you have symptoms and your rapid antigen test result is negative, your PCR test will be sent to the lab to confirm your rapid results. You should isolate at home while you wait for your PCR test results.

If you don't have symptoms, you will get a rapid antigen test only. 

Note: Some State-run test sites only offer rapid antigen tests. These locations are noted on the test site selection page of the scheduling portal.

Learn more about the different types of COVID-19 tests and swabs. 

How will I get my test result?

Results from any State-run test sites can be accessed on portal.ri.gov/results.​​​​​​ You will get a text or email notification when your result is ready in the portal. Learn more about COVID-19 test results. 

Who should get a rapid antigen test?

Rapid antigen tests are a fast way to test for COVID-19 infection, and their results are accurate and reliable. Rapid antigen tests work best when you have symptoms of COVID-19. A rapid antigen test may be recommended for an asymptomatic person when community transmission is high or when fast results are needed to prevent transmission. PCR/NAAT tests are more sensitive but may not always be as easily accessible as rapid antigen tests. 

Learn more about the different types of COVID-19 tests and swabs. 

Should I get a lab-processed test to confirm the results of my rapid antigen test?

RIDOH recommends getting tested again if you have symptoms and get a negative result on your rapid antigen test. 

RIDOH does not recommend getting tested again if: 

  • You have symptoms and get a positive result on your rapid antigen test. 
  • You don’t have symptoms and get a positive result on your rapid antigen test.  
  • You don’t have symptoms and get a negative result on your rapid antigen test.

Your follow-up test must be a lab-processed nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. You cannot use an at-home NAAT or PCR test to confirm your rapid antigen test result. 

If you have symptoms and get a negative result on both your rapid antigen and your follow-up test, you are not infected with COVID-19. Contact tracing is not needed. Close contacts do not need to quarantine. Stay home until your symptoms go away.

If you have symptoms, get a negative result on a rapid antigen test, and then get a positive result on your follow-up test, you have COVID-19 and should isolate at home. Contact tracing is needed. Close contacts should quarantine. For more information, visit covid.ri.gov/whattodo. 

About COVID-19 self-tests

Kits that you can use to test yourself for COVID-19 are available at some local pharmacies and through online retailers. Sometimes a COVID-19 self-test is also called an at-home test or an over-the counter (OTC) test. Tests performed by trained staff at a testing site or pharmacy, or by a healthcare provider may provide more accurate results. But using a self-test is an option if you cannot get to a testing site. 

For information about how to get reimbursed for the cost of your self-test kit, visit this web page. 

All Rhode Islanders can order free COVID-19 self-test kits directly from the federal government. To learn more, visit covidtests.gov. 

To report your self-test result to RIDOH, visit portal.ri.gov/s/selftest. 

For more information about testing yourself for COVID-19, visit this web page from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

When to use a COVID-19 self-test

You may consider using a self-test:

  • Before gathering indoors with others, especially with anyone who is unvaccinated, immunocompromised, or at risk of severe illness.
  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and can’t get to a test site. Stay home and away from others if you’re sick.
  • If you may have been exposed to COVID-19 and can’t get to a testing site.
  • Before and after domestic travel.
    • Self-tests are an option if you plan to travel within the United States (US) or US territories and are not required to provide documentation of a negative test result.
    • If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel, you should test yourself 1-3 days before your trip and 3-5 days after your trip. For more information, visit covid.ri.gov/travel.

When not to use a COVID-19 self-test

  • If you are traveling outside of the US or US territories, check the COVID-19 testing requirements for entry to that country.  Most countries and international airlines do not accept self-tests as proof of a negative COVID-19 test result. If you do not follow your destination’s requirements, you may be denied entry and required to return to the US.
  • If you are traveling to the US or US territories from another country, you must get a COVID-19 viral test (regardless of vaccination status or citizenship) no more than 1 day before travel by air into the US or US territories. You must show your negative result to the airline before you board your flight. Self-tests are only accepted for international travel into the US under very specific conditions.

Self-test results

You are not required to report self-test results to RIDOH. If you would like to submit your self-test result to RIDOH, you can do so using this web form.

RIDOH will not perform a case investigation or contact tracing when a self-test result is reported.

RIDOH cannot provide services, supports, or referrals for individuals who need assistance during isolation or quarantine based on a self-test result.

  • RIDOH cannot provide a letter for missed work or school due to isolation based on a positive self-test result. If a letter is required, get another test at a testing site or by a healthcare provider.
  • RIDOH cannot provide documentation of infection within the past 90 days based on a positive self-test result.

For information on what to do after getting a negative or positive result on a COVID-19 self-test, visit covid.ri.gov/testresults.

People who have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 must get tested whether or not they’re fully vaccinated. Close contact means you’ve been within 6 feet of someone with COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period. Get tested 5 days after the last time you were with that person, even if you don’t have symptoms

Whether or not you're vaccinated, watch for symptoms for 14 days after close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. If you develop any COVID-19 symptoms, isolate at home, call your healthcare provider, and get tested.

Learn about close contact quarantine requirements. 

To lower the chances of catching and spreading COVID-19, RIDOH recommends all travelers arriving in Rhode Island follow quarantine and testing guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Learn more about Rhode Island’s guidance for travelers.  

Pharmacies and some clinics will test travelers. Call first to ask if you can get tested and if there will be a cost associated with testing. Travelers departing from Boston Logan International Airport can schedule a test by going to xprescheck.com.

Rhode Island’s State-run test sites are intended for diagnostic testing and asymptomatic screening only. Results from State-run test sites are not guaranteed to meet testing requirements for travel outside of Rhode Island.  If you are getting tested before or after travel because you need test results within a strict timeframe or documentation more detailed than a standard lab report, you may need to be tested elsewhere. For more information about travel during COVID-19, visit covid.ri.gov/travel.