COVID-19 Symptoms and Testing
Check your symptoms and learn how to get viral or antibody tests
The symptoms of COVID-19 include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue or muscle aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, nausea or vomiting or diarrhea. Based on information that is currently available, symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. People can infect others up to 14 days after exposure. For more information, see this Buoy Symptom Checker.
People with COVID-19 or with other flu-like symptoms should stay home and follow quarantine procedures. Their close contacts should be advised to stay home. If someone has more significant symptoms, they should go to their health care provider, urgent care or the emergency room. They are advised to call in advance, if possible, and follow any protocols that the facility has in place.
If you need immediate medical attention (for example, if you have trouble breathing), go directly for help by calling 911 or going to your local emergency room. Older individuals should be especially cautious during this time.
COVID-19 viral testing
If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms, such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing, contact your health care provider. Your health care provider will determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19. If a viral test is recommended, your provider will direct you to a testing facility. You can also visit your state or local health department’s website to look for the latest local information on testing.
In addition to your provider’s office and the locations listed above, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has also set up testing sites around the state. Check Stop the Spread for locations and instructions.
COVID-19 antibody testing
Antibody or serological (blood) tests do not diagnose current COVID-19 infections. The presence of antibodies in your blood may show that you already had an infection. It can take 1-3 weeks after an infection to make antibodies, so recent infections may not show.
Experts do not yet know how much protection antibodies give you against another infection or how long the protection may last.
Members are covered without cost share for COVID-19 antibody testing when testing is determined by a primary care physician (PCP) or other treating provider to be medically necessary in accordance with current CDC and state public health department guidelines, which are being continuously updated.
Please contact your PCP or other health care provider to determine whether testing is appropriate for you. For Medicare members, COVID-19 testing may be ordered by any state-authorized health care professional. We will continue to update this guideline as new guidance is issued.
We understand that people have many questions regarding potential use of antibody testing. It is important to know that antibody tests should not be used to guide decisions for return to work purposes. We encourage you to learn more about testing on the following websites: