COVID-19 Testing

Page Last reviewed: October 20, 2023 2:35 p.m.

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Even if you are fully vaccinated, take a test if you have COVID-19 symptoms or a known exposure. As with vaccines available for other diseases, the COVID-19 vaccine does not have a 100% protection rate meaning fully vaccinated people can still get COVID-19.

Reminder: Do not go to the Emergency Room (ER) to receive a COVID-19 test or for mild symptoms. Whatcom County has one hospital, and its Emergency Department needs to keep its focus on serving those with urgent or life-threatening injuries/illnesses that require critical care. Speak with your doctor regarding COVID-19 testing or mild symptoms. You can find testing locations on this page.

Symptomatic or Close Contact Testing

Test as soon as possible if you are having COVID-19 symptoms or may be a close contact of someone who is sick. You can make an appointment at any testing site in Whatcom County.

If you are unable to schedule a PCR test (lab test) or do not have a rapid, at-home test, please follow current isolation/quarantine guidance.

How to Get Tested

If you have health insurance and a healthcare provider: Your healthcare provider can give you a testing referral.

If you have insurance but do not have a regular healthcare provider: Work with your insurance company to find a healthcare provider that accepts your insurance. If you need a test prior to establishing a provider, there are testing locations within Whatcom County where you can schedule an appointment, or walk-in if they accept walk-in appointments.

If you do not have insurance or a regular healthcare provider: All uninsured Washington residents can see if they qualify for special enrollment in the Washington Health Benefits Exchange, or Apple Health. You can visit the Health Benefits Exchange website or call 1-855-923-4633 (TTY: 1-855-627-9604) for more information. 

The process to get health insurance takes time and the testing window might pass before the process is complete. If you have a pending insurance application, you may need to pay for testing. Testing locations might list pricing online or you may call the facility and ask about testing.

Rapid At-home Testing Kits

Many people with symptoms of COVID-19 are using at-home tests that are available over the counter. Most at-home tests are antigen tests, which are inexpensive and produce results within minutes. There are multiple ways to access at-home tests.

Rapid at-home antigen tests may not detect very small amounts of virus in a sample. They provide the best results when the tester has symptoms or about five days after an exposure to COVID-19. If you choose to use an at-home COVID-19 test, make sure to carefully follow the instructions on the test kit.  

All at-home test kits include detailed instructions and may have a website or phone app to guide you through the process. Read the instructions fully and consider using any supplement materials provided. 

Learn more about self-testing at home guidance.

Accessing At-home Test Kits

There are multiple ways to access at-home COVID-19 tests. 

Whatcom County Library System: Free at-home tests are available at all Whatcom County Library Systems locations while supplies last. Call your local WCLS library to see if they have any tests before driving there to save on gas! Go to to find a list of location phone numbers.

East Whatcom Regional Resource Center: Free at-home tests are available at the East Whatcom Regional Resource Center while supplies last. Call to see if they have any tests before your trip to save on gas and time at 360-599-3944.

Buying a test from a pharmacy? If you have health insurance, most insurers will now reimburse you for up to eight at-⁠home tests per month, for each person on your plan.

Understanding Your At-home Test Results

At-home test kit instructions have a section dedicated to understanding test results. If your test kit includes supplement materials such as video instructions or a phone app, those supplement materials will likely provide information on test results. 

If you test positive for COVID-19, follow isolation guidance and report your positive test results. You can report your positive at You can report both positive and negative results for you or a family member. The site is available in both English and Spanish. It offers resources for notifying close contacts if you test positive, and links for drug treatments for people who are at high risk of severe disease. Oral antivirals are free for people who qualify