No-Cost COVID-19 Testing

Covid-19 testing

Wake County Public Health Drive-thru COVID-19 Testing Sites Ended Friday, July 29

The final day of drive-thru testing at county sites was Friday, July 29. This decision was made as there are a large supply of free at-home tests available, numerous community testing locations and effective vaccine and treatment options easily available in our community. Wake County shared the full scale down plan that began on June 6.

While drive-thru testing has come to an end, our commitment to keeping our residents safe is not. There are other drive-thru testing sites available in our community that can be found below. Wake County locations are also providing no-cost, at-home antigen tests to the public. 

Wake County At-Home COVID-19 Tests

Wake County Public Health is offering no-cost, at-home antigen tests to the public. Stop by during regular business hours and pick up a maximum of four (4) boxes per household with five (5) test kits in each. They'll be available at the following location at self-serve tables just inside the entrance:

Location

Address

Hours

Wake County Southern Regional Center

130 N. Judd Parkway NE, Fuquay-Varina

8:30 a.m. - 5:15 p.m.

Wake County Northern Regional Center

350 E. Holding Ave., Wake Forest

8:30 a.m. - 5:15 p.m.
Wake County Eastern Regional Center 1002 Dogwood Drive, Zebulon 8:30 a.m. - 5:15 p.m.
Wake County Health & Human Services Center at Departure 5809 Departure Drive, Raleigh 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Wake County Health & Human Services Swinburne Building 220 Swinburne St., Raleigh 8:30 a.m. - 5:15 p.m.
Wake County Public Health Center  10 Sunnybrook Road, Raleigh 8 a.m. - 5:15 p.m.

Additional No-Cost Drive-thru Testing Locations

Other sites:

The following five sites, sponsored by United Providers of Health, offer ongoing PCR tests with results back from the lab within 24–48 hours (via email). No appointment needed, walk-ins welcome. For more information, call 800-704-6943 or pre-register here.

No-Cost At-Home COVID-19 Tests

FEDERAL PROGRAM: Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order 2 sets of 4 free at-⁠home tests. If you already ordered your first and second set, order a third today. There is no cost for the tests and no shipping fees. The button below will take you to the site to order these rapid antigen tests.

STATE PROGRAM: The NC Department of Health and Human Services and LabCorp also have a program to request free at-home testing kits. These are PCR tests that must be mailed back to a lab in a postage-paid envelope. USE THIS NCDHHS LINK to make a request.

Order your FREE at-home rapid antigen testing kits

FAQs

Where can I go for a COVID-19 test?

There are dozens of locations offering COVID-19 testing in Wake County. Local pharmacies, large chain pharmacies, doctors' offices, and other community testing sites are available at NCDHHS.gov/GetTested. These sites may require appointments and may ask for insurance.

Wake County Public Health is offering no-cost, at-home antigen tests to the public. Stop by during regular business hours and pick up a maximum of four (4) boxes per household with five (5) test kits in each. See above for locations and hours.

Who should be tested?

COVID-19 testing is open to anyone who would like to be tested. We especially encourage you to be tested if you fall into any of the following categories:

  • Have COVID-like symptoms – fever, cough, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, loss of smell;
  • Have been in close contact with a known positive case of COVID-19;
  • Are a healthcare worker or first responder;
  • Work in high-risk settings like long-term care facilities, correctional facilities and homeless shelters;
  • Are 65 years old or older;
  • Have underlying health conditions;
  • Are a member of a vulnerable or historically marginalized population;
  • Are a frontline worker in a setting where social distancing is difficult; or
  • Have attended protests, rallies or other mass gatherings.
  • Children under the age of 18 who fall into one of the categories above maybe be tested if accompanied by a parent or guardian.

What do I do if my test comes back positive?

Per CDC guidelines, if your test comes back positive and you had symptoms, you should stay home and isolate (avoid anyone in your household). 

For people who are unvaccinated or are more than six months out from their second mRNA dose (or more than 2 months after the J&J vaccine) and not yet boosted, CDC now recommends quarantine for 5 days followed by strict mask use for an additional 5 days.

Alternatively, if a 5-day quarantine is not feasible, it is imperative that an exposed person wear a well-fitting mask at all times when around others for 10 days after exposure. Individuals who have received their booster shot do not need to quarantine following an exposure, but should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure. 

For all those exposed, best practice would also include a test for SARS-CoV-2 at day 5 after exposure. If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms symptoms are not attributable to COVID-19.

Isolation relates to behavior after a confirmed infection. Isolation for 5 days followed by wearing a well-fitting mask will minimize the risk of spreading the virus to others. Quarantine refers to the time following exposure to the virus or close contact with someone known to have COVID-19. Both updates come as the Omicron variant continues to spread throughout the U.S. and reflects the current science on when and for how long a person is maximally infectious.

Data from South Africa and the United Kingdom demonstrate that vaccine effectiveness against infection for two doses of an mRNA vaccine is approximately 35%. A COVID-19 vaccine booster dose restores vaccine effectiveness against infection to 75%. COVID-19 vaccination decreases the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19. CDC strongly encourages COVID-19 vaccination for everyone 5 and older and boosters for everyone 16 and older. Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and reduce the impact of COVID-19 on our communities.

What do I do if my test come back negative?

If you were tested because you have symptoms, you should stay home until you have no fever without the use of fever-reducing medicines, and you have felt well for at least 24 hours.

If you were tested because of a known contact to someone with COVID-19, you should follow the quarantine guidance (stay home and avoid contact with other members of your household) until 14 days after your last exposure.

If you were tested for another reason and have no symptoms, you can resume your regular activities.

Do I still have to wear a mask?

If you have been exposed to COVID-19 or are showing symptoms of the virus, you should continue to wear a mask to protect yourself and others.

The Wake County Board of Commissioners decided to rescind the mask mandate, effective Friday, Feb. 25, 2022 at 5 p.m.

Wake County still encourages the public to wear a mask in high-risk settings and large crowds or if they are feeling sick. There are still some places, such as health care, long-term care and transportation like airplanes, where a mask will be required because of the setting or federal regulations.

For up-to-date information from the NC Department of Health and Human Services on mask wearing visit Face Coverings and Masks | NC COVID-19 (ncdhhs.gov).

Whom should I contact if I have questions?

You can call Wake County’s COVID-19 hotline at 919-250-1500 or email covid19.questions@wakegov.com.

Why did Wake County Public Health end drive-thru testing?

While the county’s drive-thru testing has come to an end, its commitment to keeping our community safe and informed about the resources available to them is not. With free at-home tests, numerous community testing locations, and effective vaccine and treatment options easily available, Wake County Public Health made the decision to end our testing sites.

Outdoor COVID-19 testing is also extremely expensive, and keeping sites staffed eight hours a day, six days a week is a challenge. In total, Wake County has spent $131 million dollars since the start of the testing program and, at times, was forced to supplement vendor staffing with county staffing. Federal COVID-19 funding is almost gone. To continue drive-thru testing would come at a cost of $2 million a month to local taxpayers.

Testing is available throughout Wake County at doctors’ offices, clinics and pharmacies. Drive-thru testing is still currently available through state-run sites by Mako Medical. The Radeas Labs location in Wake Forest is also operating seven days a week.

Where can I get an at-home COVID-19 test?

Wake County Public Health is offering no-cost, at-home antigen tests to the public. Stop by during regular business hours and pick up a maximum of four (4) boxes per household with five (5) test kits in each. They'll be available at the following location at self-serve tables just inside the entrance:

Location

Address

Hours

Wake County Southern Regional Center

130 N. Judd Parkway NE, Fuquay-Varina

8:30 a.m. - 5:15 p.m.

Wake County Northern Regional Center

350 E. Holding Ave., Wake Forest

8:30 a.m. - 5:15 p.m.
Wake County Eastern Regional Center 1002 Dogwood Drive, Zebulon 8:30 a.m. - 5:15 p.m.
Wake County Health & Human Services Center at Departure 5809 Departure Drive, Raleigh 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Wake County Health & Human Services Swinburne Building 220 Swinburne St., Raleigh 8:30 a.m. - 5:15 p.m.
Wake County Public Health Center  10 Sunnybrook Road, Raleigh

8 a.m. - 5:15 p.m.

 

FEDERAL PROGRAM: Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order 2 sets of 4 free at-⁠home tests. If you already ordered your first and second set, order a third today. There is no cost for the tests and no shipping fees. The button below will take you to the site to order these rapid antigen tests.

STATE PROGRAM: The NC Department of Health and Human Services and LabCorp also have a program to request free at-home testing kits. These are PCR tests that must be mailed back to a lab in a postage-paid envelope. USE THIS NCDHHS LINK to make a request.

 

Are at-home tests accurate?

Per the CDC, positive test results from at-home test kits are highly reliable. 

Negative results from self-tests do not rule out SARS-CoV-2 infection. A negative self-test result may not be reliable, especially if you have symptoms associated with COVID-19.

Invalid results from self-tests mean the test did not work properly, and a new test is needed to get an accurate result.

Self-tests for COVID-19 give rapid results and can be taken anywhere, regardless of your vaccination status or whether or not you have symptoms.

  • They detect current infection and are sometimes also called “home tests,” “at-home tests,” or “over-the-counter (OTC) tests.”
  • They give your result in a few minutes and are different from laboratory-based tests that may take days to return your result.
  • Self-tests along with vaccination, wearing a well-fitted mask, and physical distancing, help protect you and others by reducing the chances of spreading COVID-19.
  • Self-tests do not detect antibodies which would suggest a previous infection and they do not measure your level of immunity.