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5.0(2 reviews)
This clinic has shorter than average waiting periods

Short Wait Time

This clinic is rated highly in patient reviews and ratings

Highly Rated

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their friendly staff

Friendly Staff

99 Nassau St, New York, NY 1003899 Nassau St
OpenThu 9:30 am - 5:00 pm
  • Mon 9:30 am - 5:00 pm
  • Tue 9:30 am - 5:00 pm
  • Wed 9:30 am - 5:00 pm
  • Thu 9:30 am - 5:00 pm
  • Fri 9:30 am - 5:00 pm
  • SatClosed
  • Sun10:00 am - 5:00 pm
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COVID testing & Rapid testing near me in New York, NY

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5.0(2 reviews)
This clinic has shorter than average waiting periods

Short Wait Time

This clinic is rated highly in patient reviews and ratings

Highly Rated

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their friendly staff

Friendly Staff

99 Nassau St, New York, NY 1003899 Nassau St
OpenThu 9:30 am - 5:00 pm
  • Mon 9:30 am - 5:00 pm
  • Tue 9:30 am - 5:00 pm
  • Wed 9:30 am - 5:00 pm
  • Thu 9:30 am - 5:00 pm
  • Fri 9:30 am - 5:00 pm
  • SatClosed
  • Sun10:00 am - 5:00 pm
empire-city-labs-xpress-lane-pharmacy
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$75

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2.5(4 reviews)
217 Grand St, New York, NY 10013217 Grand St
OpenThu 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Mon 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Tue 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Wed 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Thu 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • FriClosed
  • Sat 8:00 am - 3:00 pm
  • SunClosed
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Results in 1-3 days
$75

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4.8(245 reviews)
This clinic is rated highly in patient reviews and ratings

Highly Rated

414 W Broadway, New York, NY 10012414 W Broadway
OpenThu 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Mon 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Tue 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Wed 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Thu 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Fri 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Sat 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Sun 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
sameday-health-new-york-soho
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3.4(5 reviews)
395 Pearl St, Brooklyn, NY 11201395 Pearl St
OpenThu 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Mon 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Tue 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Wed 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Thu 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Fri 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • SatClosed
  • SunClosed
empire-city-labs-brooklyn-heights
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Recent patient review

great turn around time and easy access to report
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$75

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4.83(53 reviews)
This clinic is rated highly in patient reviews and ratings

Highly Rated

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their friendly staff

Friendly Staff

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their clean offices

Sparkling Clean

240 Atlantic Ave, Cobble Hill, NY 11201240 Atlantic Ave
OpenThu 10:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Mon10:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Tue10:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Wed10:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Thu10:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Fri10:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Sat10:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Sun10:00 am - 10:00 pm
pm-pediatric-urgent-care-cobble-hill-ny
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Recent patient review

Highly recommend this urgent care. The excellent care and friendly staff makes the visit go smoothly and stress free. Knowing that the doctors treats your child as if they were they’re own.
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Time to results unknown

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4.5(52 reviews)
159 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10011159 W 23rd St
OpenThu 8:00 am - 5:45 pm
  • Mon 8:00 am - 5:45 pm
  • Tue 8:00 am - 5:45 pm
  • Wed 8:00 am - 5:45 pm
  • Thu 8:00 am - 5:45 pm
  • Fri 8:00 am - 5:45 pm
  • Sat 8:00 am - 5:45 pm
  • Sun 8:00 am - 5:45 pm
sameday-health-nyc-chelsea
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1.0(1 reviews)
237 Grand St, Brooklyn, NY 11211237 Grand St
OpenThu 8:00 am - 5:45 pm
  • Mon 8:00 am - 5:45 pm
  • Tue 8:00 am - 5:45 pm
  • Wed 8:00 am - 5:45 pm
  • Thu 8:00 am - 5:45 pm
  • Fri 8:00 am - 5:45 pm
  • Sat 8:00 am - 5:45 pm
  • Sun 8:00 am - 5:45 pm
sameday-health-new-york-williamsburg
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PCR Test
Rapid
Time to results unknown
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Rapid
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4.86(78 reviews)
This clinic is rated highly in patient reviews and ratings

Highly Rated

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their clean offices

Sparkling Clean

164 Park Pl, Brooklyn, NY 11217164 Park Pl
OpenThu 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Mon 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Tue 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Wed 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Thu 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Fri 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Sat 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Sun 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
levelup-md-urgent-care-park-slope
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Recent patient review

Clean, friendly, and effective service! Highly recommended..;)
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Rapid
Time to results unknown
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Rapid
Results in 15 min

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211 E 51st St, New York, NY 10022211 E 51st St
OpenThu 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Mon 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Tue 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Wed 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Thu 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Fri 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • SatClosed
  • SunClosed
medical-offices-of-manhattan-midtown-east
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PCR Test
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5.0(2 reviews)
This clinic has shorter than average waiting periods

Short Wait Time

This clinic is rated highly in patient reviews and ratings

Highly Rated

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their friendly staff

Friendly Staff

570 Nostrand Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11216570 Nostrand Ave.
OpenThu 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Mon 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Tue 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Wed 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Thu 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Fri 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Sat 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • SunClosed
express-health-urgent-care-nostrand
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Recent patient review

Fast service, in and out. Staff is great !
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Results in 1-3 days
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Results in 15 min

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330 W 58th St, New York, NY 10019330 W 58th St
OpenThu 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Mon 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Tue 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Wed 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Thu 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Fri 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • SatClosed
  • SunClosed
medical-offices-of-manhattan-columbus-circle
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PCR Test
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4.8(464 reviews)
This clinic has shorter than average waiting periods

Short Wait Time

This clinic is rated highly in patient reviews and ratings

Highly Rated

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their friendly staff

Friendly Staff

243 E 60th St, New York, NY 10022243 E 60th St
OpenThu 8:00 am - 5:45 pm
  • Mon 8:00 am - 5:45 pm
  • Tue 8:00 am - 5:45 pm
  • Wed 8:00 am - 5:45 pm
  • Thu 8:00 am - 5:45 pm
  • Fri 8:00 am - 5:45 pm
  • Sat 8:00 am - 5:45 pm
  • Sun 8:00 am - 5:45 pm
sameday-health-nyc-e-60th-street
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PCR Test
Rapid
Time to results unknown
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Rapid
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1.0(1 reviews)
This clinic has shorter than average waiting periods

Short Wait Time

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their friendly staff

Friendly Staff

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their clean offices

Sparkling Clean

201 E 65th St, New York, NY 10065201 E 65th St
OpenThu 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Mon 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Tue 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Wed 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Thu 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Fri 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • SatClosed
  • SunClosed
medical-offices-of-manhattan-upper-east-side
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PCR Test
Results in 1-3 days

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4.93(15 reviews)
This clinic has shorter than average waiting periods

Short Wait Time

This clinic is rated highly in patient reviews and ratings

Highly Rated

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their friendly staff

Friendly Staff

229 49th St, Brooklyn, NY 11220229 49th St
OpenThu 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Mon 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Tue 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Wed 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Thu 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Fri 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Sat 8:00 am - 2:00 pm
  • SunClosed
empire-city-labs-sunset-park
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Recent patient review

I called to get my COVID results because my husband and I are traveling spoke with several representatives who assured me they would send me the results by text message immediately.After much time went by, I called again and spoke with Tom Kevin.He was very friendly and professional.He told me to stay on the phone as he sent the results to my email.I received them within seconds! I give Tom Kevin 5 +++++ stars!!! He was wonderful!!! Thank you Tom Kevin!!!
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PCR Test
Results in 1-3 days
$75

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4.84(38 reviews)
This clinic has shorter than average waiting periods

Short Wait Time

This clinic is rated highly in patient reviews and ratings

Highly Rated

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their friendly staff

Friendly Staff

380 Grove St, Brooklyn, NY 11237380 Grove St
OpenThu 12:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  • Mon12:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  • Tue12:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  • Wed12:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  • Thu12:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  • Fri12:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  • SatClosed
  • SunClosed
express-health-urgent-care-brooklyn
Book online

Recent patient review

Excellent service friendly staff fast and speedy service. Staff very knowledgeable . Felt secure in their care.
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3.0(2 reviews)
This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their clean offices

Sparkling Clean

555 Lefferts Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225555 Lefferts Ave
OpenThu 8:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Mon 8:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Tue 8:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Wed 8:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Thu 8:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Fri 8:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Sat 4:00 pm - 11:00 pm
  • Sun 9:00 am - 10:00 pm
kamin-health-crown-heights-urgent-care
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Recent patient review

I've been using this urgent care facility frequently as they can very quickly assist and I've always had a wonderful experience with the staff.

4.69(170 reviews)
This clinic has shorter than average waiting periods

Short Wait Time

420 Kent Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249420 Kent Ave
OpenThu 8:00 am - 9:00 pm
  • Mon 8:00 am - 9:00 pm
  • Tue 8:00 am - 9:00 pm
  • Wed 8:00 am - 9:00 pm
  • Thu 8:00 am - 9:00 pm
  • Fri 8:00 am - 3:45 pm
  • Sat 6:30 pm - 11:59 pm
  • Sun 8:00 am - 9:00 pm
chai-urgent-care-south-williamsburg
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Recent patient review

My experience was fast, friendly and very attentive from staff! The provider was very informative of what he was doing. And also asked questions before he began.
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PCR Test
Rapid
Results in 1-3 days
$125
Antigen Test
Rapid
Results in 15 min
$125

Available times

4.83(4.2k reviews)
This clinic is rated highly in patient reviews and ratings

Highly Rated

201 Marin Blvd, Jersey City, NJ 07302201 Marin Blvd
OpenThu 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Mon 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Tue 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Wed 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Thu 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Fri 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Sat 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
  • Sun 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
promptmd-jersey-city-urgent-care
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Recent patient review

So efficient and good. The nurse and PA were both professional and had a great bedside manner. I felt heard and helped.
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Clear self-pay prices

No more surprise bills. Solv is committed to making getting healthcare as easy as buying groceries at the store, including knowing the price of care upfront.

PCR Test
Results in 1-3 days
$125
Antigen Test
Rapid
Results in 15 min
$150

Available times

4.81(4.6k reviews)
This clinic is rated highly in patient reviews and ratings

Highly Rated

309 1st St, Hoboken, NJ 07030309 1st St
OpenThu 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Mon 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Tue 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Wed 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Thu 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Fri 8:00 am - 9:00 pm
  • Sat 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
  • Sun 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
promptmd-hoboken-urgent-care
Book online

Recent patient review

This is my favorite place to obtain care. The provider and staff are friendly. The examine room is extremely clean and the wait time is always super short when I use solve to book appointments online.
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Self-pay pricing

Clear self-pay prices

No more surprise bills. Solv is committed to making getting healthcare as easy as buying groceries at the store, including knowing the price of care upfront.

PCR Test
Results in 1-3 days
$125
Antigen Test
Rapid
Results in 15 min
$150

Available times

4.92(817 reviews)
This clinic has shorter than average waiting periods

Short Wait Time

This clinic is rated highly in patient reviews and ratings

Highly Rated

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their friendly staff

Friendly Staff

309 1st St, Hoboken, NJ 07030309 1st St
OpenThu 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Mon 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Tue 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Wed 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Thu 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Fri 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Sat 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
  • Sun 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
promptmd-video-visit
Book online

Recent patient review

It was super convenient to book my appointment online in advance and was able to submit all paperwork and IDs directly. I used the virtual visit/telemedicine option and it was a very seamless experience. I was done in roughly 25 minutes from wait time, to completion of my appointment. The provider was friendly and very helpful, and was able to send in a prescription for my needs. I would definitely recommend.
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VIDEO: Dr. Isaac Thomsen, pediatric infectious disease specialist, discusses COVID-19 and Delta variant and what in means for kids.Watch now!

Latest COVID-19 Testing Updates

Oct 31, 2022
A surge in respiratory syncytial virus is putting severe strain on children's hospitals nationwide. Hospitals first began seeing the unseasonable RSV rise in August. Now, many are reporting a case increase of over 300 percent compared to last month. (Becker's)
Oct 28, 2022
With the BQ.1.1 variant on the rise in Europe, experts express concern of a rise in COVID cases this winter; encourage everyone to max out their boosters and vaccinate their children (Houston Chronicle)

COVID-19 Testing FAQs

  • How much does COVID testing cost in New York?

    In many cases, COVID testing can be free. Many state and local health departments continue to offer free testing to community residents as part of their response to the pandemic. In other cases, commercially insured patients, or those on Medicare or Medicaid, may receive testing at no out of pocket cost, or with a nominal office visit copay. For cash paying patients, or those that need rapid COVID testing which will deliver results in under an hour, COVID tests can range from $50 to $150 each. It is best to call your healthcare provider prior to getting tested to better understand the cost of the specific test you require.

  • Where can I get free COVID testing in New York?

    COVID testing is available for free under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which includes testing for those without health insurance. Check with your New York-area health department as they are generally a good source for free COVID tests, or can at least point you in the right direction. Additionally, you can ask your primary care provider to recommend a free COVID test site.

  • Where can I get COVID testing in New York?

    COVID testing is available at many outlets near New York including urgent care centers, retail clinics, primary care offices, health departments, and more. Different venues will have different types of tests available, many at different price points. Some testing sites are allowing walk-in patients, however, many are still requiring some degree of advance booking to control patient volume.

  • Where can I get a rapid COVID test in New York?

    Rapid testing—both PCR (molecular) and antigen tests—is offered through many New York-area urgent care centers and physician offices, usually at an additional cost ranging from $50 up to $150 per test. Usually this will allow you to get results back in under an hour, and require advanced booking through the provider. However, if you can wait 24 hours for your results, many labs are turning around send-out lab tests in that time frame, which could save you some money.

  • How to make an appointment for COVID testing in New York?

    Same-day and next day appointments for COVID testing in New York are bookable directly through Solv. Simply browse the list of healthcare providers conducting COVID tests above, find one with a “Book Online” button, and book a time that aligns with your schedule stating “COVID-19 Test” as your reason for visit.

  • Can I get tested for antibodies if I am sick with COVID-19 New York?

    An antibody test for COVID-19 might inform you if you previously had a coronavirus infection. Because it can take between 1–3 weeks after an infection for your body to develop these antibodies, an antibody test during an active infection would not be successful. To see if you are currently infected, you need a viral test.

  • Do I need a COVID test if I have been vaccinated?

    Even if you have been fully vaccinated, if you have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, experts believe that you should be tested yourself, particularly if you are experiencing cold and flu symptoms commonly aligned with the coronavirus.

  • How long does COVID testing take?

    Getting a COVID test is quick. Most tests are done with a nasal swab, which takes less than a minute to swab both nostrils. Depending on where you get your COVID test, this means you could be in and out of the testing site in as little as 10-15 minutes. During busy times—particularly around holidays—testing sites may be busier than usual and wait times may be longer.

  • How long does it take to get COVID test results in New York?

    Most labs are returning send-out molecular (PCR) COVID test results within 24-48 hours of the test. Some sites take longer, so call and ask if the reason for the test is proof for travel. Rapid COVID tests are processed on-site and are able to deliver results in under an hour, sometimes in as little as 15 min.

  • Do COVID tests detect the Delta variant and Omicron variant?

    Regular COVID tests are able to detect both the Delta variant and Omicron variant in that they can determine whether or not you have the coronavirus. However, they can't tell which variation is involved. That would necessitate genomic sequencing, which is a different process from regular virus testing that not all labs can undertake. Sequencing is uncommon and can cost up to $100 per test. Since the treatment is the same for any variant, it is not clinically useful to an individual patient to know whether the infection was caused by a variant or not.

Recent COVID-19 Testing Reviews (20)

This was the quickest and easiest COVID test I have received so far. Even their billing process is simple and easy.

- Verified patient on 12/22

Took my daughter (7yo) for a COVID test and it was quick friendly and professional.

- Verified patient on 5/19

Accommodating and patient staff since a lot of people were waiting for Covid tests..

- Verified patient on 12/24

The person in charge of the covid testing process charged me 100 usd dollars in cash because i was not a New York resident. He did not gave me any receipt for the money and im startin to think that he kept the money for himself. The worst part is that i didnt receive the results on next day because the person who took my data spelled my email and name wrong and i almost loose my flight due to the situation.

- Verified patient on 9/1

I should have done this for all my covid tests. So much better than Urgen Care

- Verified patient on 7/14

Took a long time to register me, bat Caroline and Tru came to the rescue. I needed a Covid test urgently and they came through with flying colors.

- Verified patient on 7/16

Excellent doctor. Very facile and painless administration of COVID test. Clean spacious and modern facility. Easy to schedule. Zero wait time. Superior experience

- Verified patient on 1/29

For covid testing, so quick if you make an appointment online. The process is really efficient, the staff and doctors are extremely friendly, and the office is super clean. Highly recommend!

- Verified patient on 12/3

From beginning to end, our visit was seamless. We came in for rapid Covid testing and everyone was professional, friendly, and helpful. Thank you again!!!!

- Verified patient on 10/15

This care facility is a little gem. I made my appointment, checked in online and showed up at my scheduled time and there was virtually no wait. Admittedly, reception was a little dry, but I tossed it up to the strain of our current time. They all must be terribly exhausted. I remained cheerful and eventually they warmed up. The person who brought me back to the private room was also a bit cold, but again, was sure it was more about fatigue and their grueling response to COVID. The nurse practitioner however, was wonderful, made me feel very comfortable, answered all my questions, took the necessary COVID tests and offered to call me with the results so I wouldn't have to wait. I really appreciated that. She called fifteen minutes later and I was done. I will definitely be back as I prefer to schedule an appointment and not walk in and wait when I can't get to my primary care physician. Under normal circumstances, I would give them a four as the environment wasn't warm and welcoming however, I give them a five because despite the horrors of COVID and the risk they take everyday for many thankless guests, the fact that they can crack a smile at all is truly remarkable. I am grateful for the service they provided me and grateful for what they are doing for the world. Thank you ProHealth and best wishes to you all. You are absolute heroes.

- Verified patient on 12/17

The staff were all so kind and professional. The office is immaculate and the cost of the Rapid Covid testing was very reasonable. Results were sent to me via a text within 15 minutes. They made a somewhat stressful situation extremely easy...

- Verified patient on 12/16

Last time I waited 3 hours for covid test and 2 of those hours was outside in the cold. I was thrilled to be able to walk in and wait about 1/2 hour which I didn’t mind since I was sitting and waiting indoors.

- Verified patient on 2/4

The staff came out frequently to apprise us of how much longer to wait before coming into the facility to be seen. Once in, John, who did the COVID test on my son was both professional and reassuring and did a smooth job. Our doctor was friendly and thorough and reminded my son that although his age group mostly didn’t get as sick with COVID, he should be attentive to do what he can to lessen the spread. The result came back quickly and we were on our way. The staff couldn’t have been friendlier and made a visit that my son anticipated with trepidation, quite pleasant.

- Verified patient on 1/8

You guys were great! Really nice people and gave me my COVID test right away.

- Verified patient on 8/7

Went for a rapid Covid test (for a foreign trip). Check-in, exam and COVID test all very easy. And the doctor was particularly good, in terms of quick but thorough. She was very explicit, which I loved

- Verified patient on 10/10

Everyone with whom I dealt was lovely, in particular, Dr. Shahd Hamarsha. She spent a considerable amount of time explaining the differences between the rapid Covid test and the one I had today. She has such a delightful manner, which is evident even while wearing a mask!

- Verified patient on 1/11

It was just a COVID test but everyone was really nice especially Dr. Hamarsha.

- Verified patient on 8/30

Quick, but would like a more formal document about my Covid test that says I'm negative rather than just a text saying so.

- Verified patient on 12/11

The reason for our visit to get a covid test for my daughter. We had an advance appointment, but the wait time was still over an hour. The check in process was confusing, you have to wait outside until you are called into the building. I would have been ok with waiting outside, however the staff asked us to wait in the small vestibule between the front door and outside door. I was uncomfortable since 4 people were in this space with no social distancing markers. I could not see our actual place in line through the application (I would like to have monitored my spot this way & stayed outside or been permitted to proceed to the waiting room which was very clean and spacious), when I asked why the staff said we were about to be called (we still waited for a lengthy time after that). The actual test was fast, the exam room clean, & nice bedside manner. I would return but insist on waiting outside.

- Verified patient on 1/11

My appointment was for Covid testing. Great experience. Front desk was very efficient and the Dr. Hamarsha was excellent, very caring and approachable.

- Verified patient on 2/3

New York COVID Testing & Rapid Testing

Types of COVID Tests

There are two types of coronavirus tests (COVID-19 tests) available, those that can test for a current infection (viral test) and those that can test for a past infection (antibody test).

Viral COVID testing can be done in a few different ways, the most common being nose swabs, but saliva tests are becoming more popular. Some tests are processed out on-site and can provide results in as little as 30 minutes. These are called rapid COVID tests. The majority of tests, on the other hand, are collected at the clinic on-site and then submitted to off-site labs for processing. Results can take up to 2-3 days to arrive. 

Antibody testing looks for a past infection and may not reveal if you have an active COVID-19 infection because antibodies can take up to three weeks to form in your body. The presence of COVID antibodies may help to prevent you from becoming infected with the same virus again; but, because the clinical understanding of COVID-19 is still developing, it's unclear how long that protection will continue.

Who should get tested for current infection

The CDC currently defines four instances where COVID testing is recommended:

  1. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 including fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea.
  2. If you have been in close contact with someone with confirmed COVID-19. Close contact is defined as within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. If you have been vaccinated, or tested positive in the past 3 months and not experiencing symptoms, you do not need to be tested.
  3. If you are unvaccinated and participated in high-risk activities where distancing is not an option. This could include travel, large social or mass gatherings, crowded indoor settings, etc.
  4. If you have been referred to get a COVID test by your healthcare provider or local health department. 

How is testing done for COVID-19?

Most COVID tests are collected by a nasal swab. A member of the medical team puts a swab inside your nose for a few seconds on each side to collect the sample. After that, the samples are packaged according to CDC guidelines and tested on-site or transported to a facility for testing. The lab will test samples for the presence of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), which causes COVID infection and either your care provider or the lab will notify you with the results as soon as they are available.

PCR vs Antigen Testing

Viral COVID tests are available as molecular and antigen tests. The molecular test, also known as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, usually delivers results within a few days since most of these tests are sent to offsite labs for analysis. The average turnaround time for PCR test results is 48 hours, but in some instances may be significantly longer due to backlogs related to insufficient lab volume and capacity. Antigen tests are also known as rapid tests and have an average turnaround time of between 15 to 30 minutes.

Both PCR and rapid COVID tests can be used to test people exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, those who were close contacts to COVID-19, and those without COVID-19 symptoms who live or work in a high-risk setting (such as a nursing facility); or those individuals who are identified as part of outbreak detection and response. The rapid COVID test is also recommended for the screening of residents or healthcare workers at skilled nursing facilities along with a PCR confirmation, and for repeat screening for the early detection and prevention of outbreaks in congregate settings (such as schools, workplaces, and prisons).

COVID testing is available for free under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which includes testing for those without health insurance. To reduce the risk of facing extra costs related to COVID testing, ask your primary care doctor to recommend a free COVID test site, and confirm there are no charges or fees for the test that are not covered by your insurance plan. Additionally, avoid getting a COVID test at a hospital or free-standing emergency room, as these facilities may charge fees for COVID testing and related services.

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