COVID-19 Testing

Testing guidance

This page was last reviewed on 1/9/2024. For the most up-to-date information, including information on what to do if your test is positive, visit MDPH's webpage: About COVID-19 Testing or CDC’s webpage: Testing for COVID-19.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), you should get a test for COVID-19 if:

  • You develop any symptoms of COVID-19, even if they are mild, or
  • On day 6 following an exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19

You can consider testing before spending time with someone who is at high risk for severe COVID-19 (due to older age or medical conditions) especially if you are in an area with medium or high COVID-19 Community Level. 

You can also call the Lowell Health Department COVID-19 Line (978-674-4307) or 2-1-1, a 24-hour state-supported telephone hotline or the COVID-19 for guidance.

Testing options

Rapid antigen (self-tests or at-home) tests may be found at a pharmacy, retail store, or online and are an acceptable alternative to PCR tests in most situations. They may also be distributed through employers, municipal programs, school districts, and other community partners.

  • Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order 4 free at-home test kits from the federal government. Click here to order tests online. 
  • 2 additional at-home test kits are available to each family in Lowell through the Health Department. Test kits are generally available at the Senior Center (for seniors only), at City Hall, and at the Health Department, while supplies last. Call 978-674-4307 to confirm availability.
  • Individuals can buy at-home tests online or in pharmacies and retail stores. Private health insurance may reimburse the cost of purchasing self-tests. Visit FDA’s website for a list of authorized tests. 
  • If you are an approved setting, you may be eligible to order bulk at-home test kits and PPE through MDPH. Fill out a request here

PCR tests are generally administered by a medical provider and are typically available in retail pharmacies, urgent care centers, community health centers, and other health care locations, like a primary care office. Many sites may require pre-screening, a referral and/or an appointment. If you are unsure of the requirements, please contact the site prior to arrival. Please do not go to the emergency department for COVID-19 testing.

  • If you are insured, your insurance will likely cover the cost
  • If you are uninsured, many test sites in the Commonwealth test uninsured individuals for free. Visit TestingLocator.cdc.gov to find a no-cost COVID-19 testing location near you.
    • If you are uninsured and do not know whether the site offers free testing, please call the site to confirm before making an appointment.
  • If you are a person with a disability, the Disability Information and Access Line (888-677-1199) can help you access a test or find a test location.