And even asymptomatic people may want or need to get tested. For instance, if you believe you’ve been exposed to the virus, you should check your local guidelines regarding testing and contact tracing. Or, if you work in a high-risk environment like a hospital or a prison you might qualify for testing even without symptoms.
It may not be that simple to obtain a test, though.
Each state (and sometimes county or municipality) sets its own standards for who can obtain a COVID-19 test. This situation partly stems from the early shortage of tests, which required authorities to prioritize who could and could not receive testing. In some places, these shortages have eased, but that doesn’t mean everybody now can go out and get tested.
California, for example, classifies people into three “tiers” for testing purposes and leaves the ultimate decision about who to test up to each “Local Health Officer.”
Florida guidelines state that doctors and county health department officials will determine, on a person-by-person basis, who can get tested for COVID-19.
COVID-19 tests can be either molecular (detect the virus’ own genetic material) or antigen (detects proteins on the surface of the virus) based. Antigen tests provide rapid results but slightly less accurate; molecular tests require hours or days to return results but detect a higher percentage of active infections than antigen tests do. If tests are widely available in your area and the speed of the results matters to you, then I’d recommend you choose a location based on the type of testing they offer.