HelpContact UsFOILSite Map

Custom Navigation

Living in Tompkins County linkLearning in Tompkins County linkVisiting Tompkins County linkBusiness in Tompkins County linkTompkins County Government link

You are here:

You are here

> COVID19 Testing for COVID-19


2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Testing Icon -- Testing helps stop the spreadOn this page

Cayuga Health’s Mall testing site is open Sundays, 10 am–12 pm. Site details here.

When to get tested

You have symptoms:

If you, or someone you're with develops any of the symptoms common for COVID-19, you should get tested for the virus that causes COVID-19 regardless of your vaccination status. These include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Congestion or runny nose or sore throat
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
Other reasons to get tested:
  • In the last 2 weeks, you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for, or recently had COVID-19. Get tested even if you are fully vaccinated. Learn about contact tracing and guidance for close contacts
  • You have an upcoming medical procedure. If you are fully vaccinated, check with the provider doing the procedure to see if a test is necessary.
  • Surveillance testing: You need a test for access to work, school, or an event. No cost for Tompkins County residents. If you can show that you are fully vaccinated you do not need to be tested.
  • Your employer, school, or other organization has a testing program through Cayuga Health. 
  • Consult this CDC web page for additional information.
To learn more about testing for COVID-19

[Top of Page]

Cayuga Health Sampling Site 

Cayuga Health’s Mall sampling site is open Sundays, 10 am–12 pm, beginning Sept. 12.

  • Appointment Required: Register at or call 607-319-5708.
  • Cost: No cost for Tompkins County residents. Non-residents may be charged a $99 fee. 
Northeast: Shops at Ithaca Mall
  • Location: 40 Catherwood Rd., Ithaca. The site is set up in the back parking lot (cinema side). (Open Google map)
  • Hours: Monday–Friday, 8:30 am–4:00 pm; Closed Sat. Sunday hours 10 am–12 pm, beginning Sept. 12.
  • Access: This is a drive-through site. Individuals remain in their vehicle throughout check-in and sampling.
  • Sampling method: Supervised self-collection of anterior nares (front of the nostril) samples. Anterior nares sampling involves a noninvasive nasal swab. Unlike saliva, there is no requirement to abstain from eating, drinking or smoking..
  • Test type: Polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The test detects genetic material from the virus. (Source)
Appointment Required!

An appointment is required to get tested at the Cayuga Health Sampling Sites. Register online here, or call 607-319-5708.

Information reviewed 9/10/2021

What should I expect?
  • This is a drive-through sampling site:
    • Remain in your car, and wait to be directed by Sampling Center staff. You may tune your radio to 96.3 FM for information and instructions.
    • Staff will use a tablet to pull up your registration, and review the information you provided when you registered. Please have your I.D. and insurance information ready to show.
    • You will be directed to the sample pick-up lanes.
    • You will be given instructions about the next steps you should take.
What happens while I wait for results?
  • If you got tested because you are experiencing any symptoms (you are symptomatic)
    • You must return home without any stops. You must stay separated from all others in your household, including children. Read more about mandatory isolation here.
    • You will get a check-in call to see if you have any questions and be sure you are following isolation procedure.
    • You must remain in isolation until you receive your test results. Results have typically been available within 24 hours. Ask the medical staff at the sampling site.
    • Only in the case of an emergency, call 911
  • If you got tested on recommendation by a contact tracer  (close contact with a known case of COVID-19), or a Health Alert (present during a potential public exposure)
    • You should self-quarantine for 14 days from the date of the exposure, and monitor your symptoms.
    • If you are fully vaccinated you do not need to quarantine. Monitor for possible COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days. If you develop any symptoms, get tested again.
  • If you got tested at the request of your employer, as an essential worker, or by personal choice, and you are asymptomatic
    • You do not need to go into quarantine or isolation
    • Continue to practice all prevention measures, including wearing a face covering when in a public place, maintain 6 feet distance from others, avoid crowds and tight areas.
How will I get my result?
  • Your result will be available on the Cayuga Health Patient Portal within the timeframe you are given at the testing site. 
  • If the test result is positive (virus detected) you will be called by a case investigator from the Tompkins County Health Department. They will provide instructions and will conduct a thorough contact investigation.
  • You may be released from isolation following a negative test result and once you do not have symptoms for at least 24 hours.
What if I don't have transportation?
  • After you have registered, call 2-1-1 for assistance. 2-1-1 is available 8:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m. to help with transportation options  to the Sampling Site.
  • 2-1-1 is arranging free transportation for individuals with symptoms, or known exposure to positive cases. Other transportation options will have varying fees. 

How do I register?

Complete information at


[Top of Page]

Self- or At-Home Testing Kits

Self-tests or at-home test kits are able to detect current infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. They are available over the counter at many pharmacies -- no prescription needed. If you have symptoms, were in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, or at a gathering with others who later tested positive, you should get tested regardless of your vaccination status. If you use a self-test, follow the product instructions exactly to minimize false or invalid results.

If the self-test result is positive for virus infection, you should immediately quarantine and get a PCR test either at your health care provider or at the Cayuga Health sampling site at the Mall.

Commercially available over-the-counter (OTC) test kits.
  • A list of all products with an FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) is here.
  • Rapid Test– Nucleocapsid Antigen: qualitative detection of the nucleocapsid protein antigen from SARS-CoV-2. Typically use a nasal swab to collect the sample.
    • Widely available: BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card. Requires 2 tests, 3 days apart. Note that this test may not be accepted by airlines for COVID-19 test requirements. You may refer to this FAQ at the Walgreens website for unofficial information. Additional travel information below.
Travel Requirements
  • CDC FAQ about the requirement for proof of negative COVID-19 test or recovery from COVID-19 for all air passengers arriving in the United States.
  • Major airlines (American, Delta, United) have partnered with eMed to provide tests required for international travel. The service includes a test for both outbound and return trips. Negative test results provided through a smartphone app are accepted by the airline for boarding.
Report positive tests to the health department
  • Contact tracing and case reporting are keys to stopping the spread of COVID-19. It is critical that all positive self-tests be reported to the Health Department so contact tracing and record keeping can be completed. When you get a PCR test at the CHS testing site or at a provider, your results are automatically reported to TCHD. That's why it is so important for positive self-tests to be followed up with a PCR test. To report a positive self-test directly to TCHD, call 607-274-6604.
Learn more about self-tests

[Top of Page]