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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the NYC Test & Trace Corps?

Launched on June 1, 2020, the NYC Test & Trace Corps is a public health initiative responding to COVID-19 in New York City. It is a group of doctors, public health professionals and community advocates working to keep New York City healthy and safe from COVID-19.

The work of the Corps is led by NYC Health + Hospitals in close collaboration with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and other city agencies.

What is the goal of the Test & Trace Corps?

The Corps aims to keep New Yorkers safe by reducing the spread of the virus and helping those who have or were exposed to COVID-19 separate safely from others and protect their loved ones and communities. There are three key components of the work of the Corps:

Test
The NYC Test & Trace Corps offers no-cost testing at hospitals, health centers, community-based sites and mobile units across the five boroughs. You can find locations convenient to you on our COVID-19 Testing Sites page.

Trace
From June 2020 to April 2022, trace reached out to New Yorkers who have or were exposed to COVID-19 and provided them with the resources they needed to safely separate from others.

Based on the CDC’s February 2022 guidance that universal COVID-19 contact tracing was no longer recommended, the Trace program ended in April 2022. The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will continue to perform case investigation and contact tracing in specific settings and groups at increased risk.

New Yorkers who test positive or were exposed to COVID-19 can call the NYC Test & Trace Corps Hotline at 212-COVID19 (212-268-4319) or use the COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation Tool to receive personalized guidance that fits their specific circumstances. In addition, New Yorkers who test positive may receive a text from us with links to isolation guidance and resources, such as medical treatment and food assistance.

Take Care
Take Care provides resources to New Yorkers who have or were exposed to COVID-19 to help them separate safely from others during their quarantine or isolation period. This includes delivery of personal protective equipment and other necessities (including home COVID-19 tests and thermometers) and access to food at home.

How does the NYC Test & Trace Corps ensure the privacy and security of personal information?

The NYC Test & Trace Corps is committed to protecting the privacy and security of New Yorkers’ personal health information as required by federal, state and local law and in keeping with the NYC Health + Hospitals’ and the City Health Department’s long-time experience in guarding such information. The information that the NYC Test & Trace Corps receives through contact tracing is confidential and protected under the New York City Health Code.

The NYC Test & Trace Corps does not ask about anyone’s immigration status and its database is not linked to any law enforcement databases. Any information the NYC Test & Trace Corps obtains is stored securely and used by authorized staff for the limited purpose of protecting public health.

How is the NYC Test & Trace Corps working to understand the diverse needs of New Yorkers, particularly communities most impacted by the virus?

The Corps is working to ensure that this effort is reflective of the diverse city it serves. Community groups provide advice and support to help us deliver effective, culturally appropriate services, and to address the needs of communities that have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, through partnerships with community-based organizations across the city, the NYC Test & Trace Corps’ resource navigators can help New Yorkers overcome logistical issues they may encounter while safely separating in their homes such as access to food.

Test

Who can get tested?

All New Yorkers can get tested for COVID-19 at no cost to them.

Where can New Yorkers get tested?

To find a testing site near you, visit nyc.gov/covidtest or call 212-COVID19 (212-268-4319).

Should people get tested more than once?

Testing remains an important part of reducing the spread of COVID-19. All New Yorkers should get tested for COVID-19 if they have symptoms or were recently exposed to someone with COVID-19.

See below for more information about when to get tested, the types of COVID-19 tests available and how to interpret test results.

Will I need to pay for my test?

No, city-run testing sites offer COVID-19 tests at NO cost to you. However, if you have insurance, it is important to share your insurance information so that the insurer can be billed.

When and how will I receive my test results?

If you took a PCR test, your test results will be available within 24-72 hours. While you are awaiting test results, it is important that you stay home and separate safely if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or believe you may have been exposed to COVID-19.

For details on quarantining and isolating based on your specific circumstances, use the COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation Guidance Tool or visit our COVID-19 Resources page and find your guidance under What to do if you were exposed to COVID-19 or What to do if you test positive for COVID-19.

Trace

What is contact tracing?

Contact tracing is a public health intervention used to contain the spread of a contagious disease. From June 2020 through April 2022, NYC’s contact tracers reached out to those who tested positive for COVID-19 to provide them with information about safely separating from others, offer resources and ask for the names of their close contacts. A close contact is a person with COVID-19 you recently spent time with in person, and they are the “contacts” in “contact tracing.” Close contacts were then notified to let them know they had been exposed and provided information and resources for quarantining. The identity of the person who exposed them was kept confidential and never shared.

What is the role of a contact tracer?

As of April 2022, the NYC Test & Trace Corps is no longer conducting universal contact tracing. The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will continue to perform case investigation and contact tracing in specific settings and groups at increased risk.

How does the NYC Test & Trace Corps get people’s information?

If you were diagnosed with COVID-19, the NYC Test & Trace Corps received your information from the NYC Health Department. New York State law and the New York City Health Code require laboratories to send positive test results to the NYC Health Department. The NYC Health Department securely shared your information with the NYC Test & Trace Corps in compliance with privacy laws that allow this type of information to be used to protect public health and stop the spread of disease.

While Test & Trace’s contact tracing program ended in April 2022, if you test positive for COVID-19 you may receive a text from us to connect you with links to personalized isolation guidance and resources to support you, such as medical treatment and food assistance. Texts will come from 844-641-1568. You can also receive personalized guidance by calling our hotline at 212-COVID19 (212-268-4319) or using our COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation Guidance Tool.

What does “close contact” with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 mean?

Close contact is defined as:

  • Being within 6 feet of someone with COVID-19 for a total of at least 15 minutes within a 24-hour period (for example, 3 separate 5-minute exposures on the same day) starting 2 days before their symptoms started or, if they don’t have symptoms, before they were tested. This applies even if you are vaccinated or were wearing a mask.
  • If you live in the same household with a person who has COVID-19 you are considered a close contact until they start isolating.

I have COVID-19. How do I tell my close contacts that they were exposed?

Contact tracers will notify your close contacts that they were exposed to COVID-19 – but only if you share their name and contact information with your contact tracer. Your close contacts will never know that you are the person who exposed them.

We recommend that you tell your close contacts that they were exposed to COVID-19 before NYC Test & Trace reaches out to them, if you feel comfortable. You could say something like: “I was just diagnosed with COVID-19. Because we were in close contact while I could have spread the virus, you have been exposed. You can use the COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation Guidance Tool to see what guidance you should follow next. You can also call the NYC Test & Trace Corps Hotline at 212-COVID19 (212-268-4319) for information on free resources to help you safely separate and visit nyc.gov/covidtest to find a testing location near you.”

Take Care

What type of assistance will New Yorkers receive when isolating at home?

All New Yorkers who are safely separating at home and monitoring their health status have access to free meals, a package containing materials required to separate safely at home, and information about other available resources.

Can New Yorkers isolate in a free hotel room if they have tested positive for COVID-19?

The Take Care isolation hotel program ended in April 2022. If you or someone you know tested positive for COVID-19 and needs support in your isolation, call the NYC Test & Trace Corps Hotline at 212-COVID19 (212-268-4319) to connect directly with a resource navigator. Resource navigators are available Monday to Thursday, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Friday to Sunday and holidays, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Outside these hours, you can leave a voicemail and someone will call you back.