Symptoms & Testing

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COVID-19 Symptoms & Testing

All Pennsylvanians should learn the symptoms of COVID-19 and how it spreads. We know a lot about COVID-19. It is extremely contagious, spreading through the natural moisture (respiratory droplets) we breathe out when we talk, cough, or sneeze. To contain COVID-19, we all need to know when and how to get testing, and what to do if we get sick. For the latest guidance of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, visit the PA Department of Health website.


  • Fever. If you have a temperature above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, stay home.
  • Chills. Including repeated shaking with chills.
  • Muscle pain or body aches.
  • Headache or confusion.
  • Difficulty staying awake or waking up.
  • Cough.
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. May have bluish lips or face.
  • Congestion or runny nose.
  • Sore throat.
  • New loss of taste or smell.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.

Use the Coronavirus Self-Checker online tool to help you make decisions and seek appropriate medical care.

Incubation Period

COVID-19 symptoms can take days to appear, usually between two to 10 days after exposure to the virus.

Not everyone who has COVID-19 will have bad symptoms. Some may only have mild symptoms or show no signs of being sick. If you think you might have COVID-19, stay home (or go home) and contact your healthcare provider immediately.

High-Risk Factors

Adults 65 years or older, and anyone with serious medical conditions are at higher risk for getting severely sick from COVID-19.

COVID-19 Public Testing Sites

There are public testing sites across Pennsylvania. Check out our map for all locations. Testing is available at many Rite Aid, CVS, Patient First, and Walmart locations.

Get testing from your healthcare provider or schedule an appointment at a public testing site if:

  • You’ve been in contact with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19
  • A contact tracer says that you’ve had potential exposure to the virus
  • You’re caring for someone with COVID-19
  • You traveled to a high-risk area

Regardless of your COVID-19 test result, follow the latest CDC guidance for isolation and quarantine.

Find a Testing Site

Free At-Home COVID-19 Tests

Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests. The tests are completely free. Orders will usually ship in 7-12 days.

Order your tests now so you have them when you need them.

Order Free At-Home Tests

Take an at-home test:

  • If you begin having COVID-19 symptoms like fever, sore throat, runny nose, or loss of taste or smell, or
  • At least 5 days after you come into close contact with someone with COVID-19, or
  • When you’re going to gather with a group of people, especially those who are at risk of severe disease or may not be up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines.

You can find more details about the free at-home COVID-19 tests at the COVID Tests federal website.

Getting the Right Medical Care

If you have COVID-19 symptoms, getting medical care is the first step. If you need to find a healthcare provider, call 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258).

If your symptoms are:

  • Mild. Stay home or go home immediately. Rest. Drink fluids. Take acetaminophen to reduce fever. If symptoms get worse, call your healthcare provider.
  • Severe. Call your healthcare provider for severe symptoms, like a fever above 100.4 Fahrenheit.
  • Emergency. Get emergency medical help by calling 911 if you have trouble breathing, chest pain or pressure, confusion, inability to stay awake or wake up, or bluish lips or face.

Cleaning After COVID-19

Be proactive if your home or business has suspected or confirmed exposure to the virus. 

  • Keep others out of the areas used or visited by the sick person.
  • Wait for as long as practical (ideally 24 hours) before cleaning and disinfecting the area visited or used by the sick person. Do the same for all items used by the sick person.
  • Open windows and doors to let air in. Use fans to help circulate air.
  • Identify and notify those who were in close contact with the sick person. Close contact means within six feet for 10 minutes or more up to 48 hours before the first symptoms appeared.

Staying Home from Work

Workers with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 should stay home. You can return to work after meeting all three requirements set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. That means you must:

  • be fever-free for three days
  • have had improved symptoms, and
  • have waited at least 10 days since your symptoms first appeared

If you are an employer, consider changing your leave policies to allow for paid time off for those staying home because of suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19, or for being at high risk.

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