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

> Health Alert: When to Get Tested for COVID-19, Guidance following At-Home COVID-19 Test Results

 N E W S   R E L E A S E 

Your Partner for a Healthy Community
Frank Kruppa — Public Health Director


Tuesday, August 17, 2021

For media inquiries:
Dominick Recckio,

Health Alert: When to Get Tested for COVID-19, Guidance following At-Home COVID-19 Test Results

(Ithaca, N.Y., August 17, 2021) -- The Tompkins County Health Department is clarifying for the community when to seek a COVID-19 test. TCHD is also clarifying what you should do following results from an over the counter at-home COVID-19 test.

Testing remains one of the most effective tools in identifying positive cases and stopping the spread, TCHD continues to use test results to complete contact tracing and direct quarantine and isolation. Testing remains free for Tompkins County residents through Cayuga Health System.

Due to the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 there has been an uptick in the number of vaccinated individuals becoming positive with COVID-19. Infection of vaccinated individuals remains rare, and all available vaccines continue to be highly effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.

TCHD recommends that individuals seeking a COVID-19 test do so with a PCR test, which is the most sensitive and reliable. These tests are available through Cayuga Health System, testing information can be found here. All PCR test results are automatically reported to TCHD and allow for isolation and quarantine, and contact tracing.

At this time, you should seek a COVID-19 PCR test if you are:

  • Symptomatic for COVID-19 (See list of symptoms here) regardless of your vaccination status.
  • An unvaccinated close contact of a positive individual, 5-7 days after exposure.
    • Unvaccinated close contacts are still required to complete quarantine.
  • A fully vaccinated close contact of a positive individual, 3-5 days after exposure.
  • If your employer or affiliated institution or school requires testing.

Close contacts are individuals who are within six feet from a positive individual for 10 minutes or more. TCHD continues to call close contacts identified during contact tracing.

While TCHD recommends the more sensitive and accurate PCR tests, over the counter at-home antigen COVID-19 tests have become available at pharmacies for purchase. TCHD is alerting the community that all positive at-home test results should be immediately communicated with your primary care provider and TCHD (alert TCHD by calling 607-274-6604).

If you would like assistance in finding a primary care provider in the area, call the Cayuga Health Physician Referral Service at (607) 274-4615.

The Tompkins County Health Department is your partner for a healthy community. Find us online at, and follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter at @TompkinsHealth.