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Testing for COVID-19

Testing is vital for maintaining the health and safety of the IU community during the ongoing pandemic. There are a variety of COVID-19 testing options available in your community.

Testing options in your community

COVID-19 tests are available in a variety of locations throughout Indiana.

On campus

For those campuses with on-campus health centers, symptomatic testing will continue to be available. Visit the website for your campus health center for more information on scheduling and availability.

Free COVID-19 tests

  • Each household can order free, at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests from the U.S. government.
  • Find free community testing options through coronavirus.in.gov.

At-home tests

Many retail pharmacies and other locations have at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests available for purchase.

Testing and treatment

The U.S. government launched the Test to Treat program, which shows testing sites that also offer COVID-19 treatments.

Types of COVID-19 tests

The three most common types of tests for COVID-19 are a PCR test, an antigen test, and an antibody test. PCR and antigen are used to determine if a person has an active case of COVID-19.

PCR tests use either a nasal swab or a saliva sample to determine if there is genetic material from the virus in the sample. If genetic material is detected, the test is positive. PCR tests are very accurate—they are both very sensitive and very specific.  False positives are thought to be very rare.

Antigen tests may sometimes be called rapid tests or at-home tests since results are available in less than an hour and there are many options available over-the-counter. This type of test looks for specific proteins on the surface of the virus. A positive test result from an antigen test also means it is very likely that you have COVID.

Antibody testing tells you about old infections with coronaviruses. Unfortunately, there is still a lot that we don’t know about this test. False positives may occur after exposure to other non-COVID coronaviruses. False negative may occur early in a disease or a few months after true infection. Because of this, we do not currently recommend this test.

If your test is positive

Report your positive result through IU’s self-report form. You’ll receive detailed instructions via your IU email account from IU contact tracers about isolation and next steps.

If your test is negative

If you tested because you have COVID-19-like symptoms and are feeling ill, you should continue to stay home and away from others until you're feeling better even if your test was negative. If your symptoms continue, you may consider testing for COVID-19 again in a day or two. 

Test result definitions

Typically, COVID-19 test results will fall into one of these categories:

Detected: This means you have an active COVID-19 infection and must isolate from others immediately. 

Not detected: This means you do not have an active COVID-19 infection. If you were tested because you had symptoms, you should remain in isolation until you're feeling better and have not had a fever for 24 hours.

Inconclusive / Invalid / Unacceptable specimen: This means it's not possible to say if you have COVID-19 at the time of your test and you'll need to be re-tested.