When should I get tested for COVID-19?

You should get tested for COVID-19 if you:

  • Have symptoms of COVID-19
  • Had an exposure to COVID-19, which means you were was less than six feet away from an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period
  • Are planning to gather with people outside your household, for peace of mind
  • Need a test to clear you for work, school, or travel

You can use an at-home testing kit or visit a state or local testing site. BMC also offers limited testing to established patients. More information is available below.

Please do not come to our Emergency Department for COVID-19 testing.

How can I get tested for COVID-19 at BMC?

BMC is offering COVID-19 tests to established BMC patients on a limited basis at our ILI Clinic in the Crosstown Building (801 Mass Ave.), Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Please note that tests are on a first come first serve basis and as with testing across the state, you will experience long wait times. 

Testing at BMC is for patients only. If you are not a patient, or for other testing options, please visit a state or local testing site or use an at-home test if one is available.

Please do not come to our Emergency Department for COVID-19 testing.

If your child has COVID-19 symptoms, please call their pediatrician for testing.

Do you offer rapid testing?

All BMC COVID-19 tests are PCR testing, which takes several days for results. We do not offer rapid testing, including in the Emergency Department.

How long will it take to get my COVID-19 test results from BMC?

Due to the volume of testing, our current turnaround time to send results is approximately 72 hours. Results will be sent via MyChart when they are ready. Please do not call BMC to ask for your COVID-19 testing results.

I tested positive with an at-home test. Do I need a PCR test?

No. If you tested positive with an at-home test, you should assume you have COVID-19, especially if you have any symptoms. Please stay home to isolate. Do not come to get another test to confirm a positive at-home test.

I tested negative but had a COVID-19 exposure or have symptoms of COVID-19. What should I do?

If you test negative but had a COVID-19 exposure, you may need to quarantine. Currently, you do not need to quarantine if you are up-to-date with vaccinations or had COVID-19 within the last 90 days. Learn more about when to quarantine and what this means on the Centers for Disease Control website.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 but test negative with an at-home test, you should get a PCR test or test yourself at home a few days after the first negative test.

Are at-home COVID-19 tests accurate?

At-home COVID-19 tests can be a great way to help you make decisions for your health. False positives are rare, so if you test positive on an at-home test, you should assume you have COVID-19. Please do not come to get another test to “confirm” a positive at-home test.

These tests work best if you have COVID-19 symptoms. If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, you should wait three to five days after the exposure to test, especially if you don’t have symptoms.

I think I might have COVID-19. What should I do?

If you tested positive on an at-home test and have mild symptoms or no symptoms, please stay home and isolate for at least five days, or until your fever or other symptoms go away, whichever comes later. Also wear a mask if you’re around other people for ten days if you can’t isolate, or five days after you’re done isolating.

Do not come to the BMC Emergency Department for further testing, as we are experiencing exceptionally long wait times.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and want to be seen by your doctor, please call your primary care team’s office to schedule an appointment. Be sure to tell them that you have symptoms of COVID-19 before your appointment.

What if I need urgent care for a problem not related to COVID-19?

Our Emergency Department is experiencing exceptionally long wait times and is very busy at this time. If you or your child is ill and needs medical attention but does not have a life-threatening emergency, it’s best to avoid a visit to the emergency room. We have same or next day in-person and telehealth appointments available for new and established Pediatrics, Adult Primary Care, Geriatrics, and Family Medicine patients.

Please call us first for minor illnesses and injuries such as back pain, low-grade fever, minor allergic reaction, cough, cold, earache:

  • Adult Primary Care: 617-414-5951
  • Family Medicine: 617-414-2080
  • Pediatrics: 617-414-5946
  • Geriatrics: 617-414-4639

Learn more.

What is the Omicron variant of COVID-19?

When a virus mutates (changes its form), that’s called a variant of the original virus. Sometimes variants disappear quickly, while others begin to spread among populations. Omicron is a variant of COVID-19 that is spreading quickly.

There’s still a lot we don’t know about the Omicron variant, because it’s so new:

  • Currently, it seems like Omicron spreads more quickly than the original type of COVID-19.
  • More data is needed to know if Omicron causes less serious illness than other variants of COVID-19 and to know how quickly people get sick after being infected with Omicron.
  • Vaccines are still very good at preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death in people infected with Omicron. However, it is possible to get infected even if you are fully vaccinated. Getting a booster dose will reduce your chances of getting a breakthrough infection.

What are the symptoms of the Omicron variant?

If you’re vaccinated, Omicron may cause more mild illness, more like a regular cold. However, this might not be true for everyone. Common symptoms of Omicron include:

  • Cough
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle pain, especially in your lower back
  • Runny nose
  • “Stuffy” or congested nose

What are the symptoms of the Delta variant?

The Delta variant is another variant of COVID-19, and was the most common variant before Omicron arose. Symptoms of the Delta variant are similar to the Omicron variant, but are more likely to include respiratory (lung) symptoms. Common symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Muscle pain
  • Trouble breathing

How do I know which COVID-19 variant I have?

Some of the symptoms of each variant are different, and might help you figure out which variant you have. In most cases, testing won’t tell you which variant of COVID-19 you have.

However, if you test positive for COVID-19, you should take the same steps no matter which variant you may have:

  • Stay home and isolate for at least five days, or until your fever or other symptoms go away, whichever comes later.
  • Wear a mask if you’re around other people for ten days if you can’t isolate, or five days after you’re done isolating.
  • Tell anyone you were recently in contact with that you tested positive.
  • Call your doctor if you start to feel very sick.

Is BMC giving monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19?

Monoclonal antibody treatments are being given with extremely limited availability at BMC. Priority is being given to patients who are severely immunocompromised. 

Please talk to your doctor whether this treatment is right for you and about a potential referral to the COVID infusion team. Self-referrals will not be accepted, and due to high demand, we are unable to call all patients referred for monoclonal antibody treatment.

Monoclonal antibody treatment is also available at mobile units set up by Massachusetts DPH. Your doctor can also refer you to one of these locations. More information is available on Mass.gov.

Is BMC giving oral antiviral treatment for COVID-19?

Oral antiviral medications are available to treat COVID-19. Please talk to your doctor to see if this treatment is right for you and learn how to access it.