Testing

As a reminder, a negative test does not mean you cannot spread COVID-19, or get infected with COVID-19, at a later date. Residents should continue to practice physical distancing and good hygiene, regardless of a negative test result.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can anyone get tested?

Yes. Testing is available to any Cambridge resident who wishes to get tested. Testing is offered at no cost to residents of all ages, including babies. You do not need to have symptoms or meet any other criteria to get tested.

What type of test is this?

It is a PCR test, which is considered the best and most accepted diagnostic test.  

Does the test hurt?

This is a painless procedure! The City’s testing sites use short nasal swabs, not the long ones that “tickle the brain.” When you get tested, a medical provider will show you how to gently swab the inside of each nostril for a few seconds. The swab (which looks like a Q-tip) won’t go any further inside your nose. The sample will be sent to the lab for testing. Note: Upon request, the medical provider will do your nasal swab if you are uncomfortable doing it yourself.

Is there a shortage of tests? Am I taking away a test from someone who needs it more?

There is no shortage of testing supplies in Cambridge. Anyone who wishes to get tested should do so.

If I was in a higher-risk situation, such as traveling through airports, how long should I wait to get tested to get the most accurate result?

After exposure to the coronavirus, it can take up to four to five days for the infection to be detectable by the test. Getting a test too early can lead to a false negative test result. This means that you might test negative but still have COVID-19.  

Is the Cambridge Public Health Department encouraging all residents to get tested on a regular basis?

No. There is no one-size-fits-all formula for figuring how often someone should seek testing. This varies by person and scenario. For instance, you may want to consider getting tested more often if you are frequently in contact with people outside your household, either through your job, school, or personal activities. CPHD encourages residents with specific concerns to seek advice from their medical provider.

How long will it take to get my test results?

Results are usually available within 24 hours via email but can sometimes take longer. Getting results via phone can take 1-3 business days.

I need proof of a negative test. How can I get that?

You can get proof of a negative test through the CareEvolve portal. People who cannot access the portal can request a letter of proof via secure email message by filling out this form with their name, test date and date of birth. This service is available during business hours and it will take two to four business days to receive the letter. If "the form" is not an option, people can call 617-665-3848 and leave a message with their name, test date and date of birth and request an e-mailed statement

What does a negative test result mean

A negative test result means you most likely did not have COVID-19 at the time that you were tested. As noted above, however, a false negative result is possible if you have recently been exposed to COVID-19 but the infection hasn’t had time to develop to the point where it can be detected by a test.

If I get a negative result, does that mean I don’t need to worry about precautions such as wearing a mask, physical distancing and hand washing?

NO! It is very important for you to continue to take these precautions to protect yourself and others. Even if you did not have COVID-19 at the time of your test, there is still the potential for you to become infected after you have a test.

Testing Sites

Book Appointment Online  

The City of Cambridge and Cambridge Public Health Department (CPHD) are offering free COVID-19 testing for Cambridge residents. The PCR tests are anterior nasal swab tests and not the nasopharyngeal swab test that go all the way back in the nasal passages. No identification or Social Security number is required. All sites are wheelchair accessible.

NOTE: While appointments are not required, we strongly urge residents to book an appointment in advance. Please keep checking back as new appointments are added as they become available. Please be mindful that appointments cannot be made by calling the testing sites directly. 

Sundays:

  • CambridgeSide in East Cambridge, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. (Drive-through testing by motor vehicle in the garage. Enter on First St. For Safety Reasons, this site cannot accommodate anyone arriving by bicycle or on foot). The CambridgeSide testing site is located in the upper parking garage on First Street. The upper parking garage will be used for COVID-19 testing only. There is no access to the testing site from inside CambridgeSide or from the lower parking garage.

Mondays: 

  • 50 Church St., 12 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Tuesdays: 

  • 50 Church St., 12 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Wednesdays: 

  • 2254 Massachusetts Ave, St. John the Evangelist Church, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Thursdays:

  • CambridgeSide in East Cambridge, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. (Drive-through testing by motor vehicle in the garage. Enter on First St. For Safety Reasons, this site cannot accommodate anyone arriving by bicycle or on foot). The CambridgeSide testing site is located in the upper parking garage on First Street. The upper parking garage will be used for COVID-19 testing only. There is no access to the testing site from inside CambridgeSide or from the lower parking garage.

Fridays: 

  • 50 Church St., 12 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Saturdays: 

  • 85 Bishop Allen Drive, Christian Life Center (owned and operated by St. Paul’s AME), from 11 a.m. - 7p.m. The Pisani Center will no longer be a testing site.

To schedule an appointment, sign up online or call 617-349-9788. 
 

Book Appointment Online

 

Test Results

The Cambridge Public Health Department (CPHD) shares results with residents who receive testing at a mobile site or "a" stand-alone testing center.

Community Testing: Test results are typically available within 72 hours on the online patient portal. Residents receive an email from careevolve@lknotification.com or ELLKAY@lknotification.com alerting them when results are ready on the portal or will receive a phone call with results. Cambridge residents can also request results by phone at the time of their appointment. For Cambridge residents requesting phone notification, the Cambridge Public Health Department will call with results typically within 3 business days of receiving them.

Test Results: As a reminder, a negative test does not mean you cannot spread COVID-19, or get infected with COVID-19, at a later date. Residents should continue to practice physical distancing and hygiene, regardless of a negative test result. As a reminder, a negative test does not mean you cannot spread COVID-19, or get infected with COVID-19, at a later date. Residents should continue to practice physical distancing and hygiene, regardless of a negative test result.

Please wait at least two business days after your test date to reach out to us about the status of your test results. To find out the status of your test results, either leave a message at 617-665-3848 or fill out this form. Please make sure to include your full name, date of birth, and test date in your voicemail or email request for results.

Other Ways to Get Tested

There are several ways that Cambridge residents can get tested for COVID-19:

The state’s “Stop the Spread” testing sites are open to all Massachusetts residents, and testing is free of charge. The sites are located in several nearby communities (Chelsea, Everett, Revere, Winthrop). Many of these sites are walk-up or drive-through and do not require appointments. Details about each site are provided at https://www.mass.gov/info-details/stop-the-spread#eligibility-

The Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) test site at Assembly Square, 77 Middlesex Avenue, Somerville is free to CHA patients and Cambridge residents by appointment. It can be accessed by car, bicycle, or on foot. Appointment slots are limited, and they do not book out more than 5 days. Individuals without symptoms can call 617-665-2928 for an appointment. Individuals with symptoms are advised to contact their primary care provider.

If you are not a Cambridge resident or cannot access the Cambridge testing sites, there are several ways you can gain access to testing:

Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA)

CHA's new testing location is at 133 Middlesex Ave. in Somerville (Assembly Square). It is open to CHA patients and community members in their service areas (Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Medford, Revere, Somerville and Winthrop). It runs Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. You must have an appointment -- please call 617-665-2928 (Mon-Fri, 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.). You can come by car, by bicycle, or on foot. Please bring a picture ID. More information is available on CHA's website.  

CHA has set up a voice mailbox (617-665-1102) to answer questions or concerns about COVID-19 test results. Callers are asked to leave their name, date of birth and phone number for a call back. CHA will respond within one business day. The mailbox is open to community members who have been tested at CHA, including patients, residents and first responders.

Contact Your Health Care Provider

If you think you may have COVID-19, call your health care provider and tell them about your symptoms. COVID-19 symptoms may include fever, sore throat, loss of sense of smell, cough, difficulty breathing, body aches, or chills.

Your health care provider will help you decide whether testing is appropriate. If your provider thinks you should be tested and cannot do the test on-site, they will make the referral to a testing site near you.

Here is a current list of COVID-19 testing sites in Massachusetts: https://www.mass.gov/doc/ma-covid-19-testing-sites/download

Use the State’s Free Online Telehealth Service

The state is partnering with Doctor on Demand to offer free telehealth visits to Massachusetts residents who want to get a quick assessment of symptoms and/or do not have health insurance. Through this service, you’ll be evaluated online and connected to testing if needed. To access this free service, go to: https://www.mass.gov/how-to/check-your-symptoms-for-covid-19-online

Call the State’s 24-Hour Hotline

If you do not have internet access or do not feel comfortable using websites, you can call 2-1-1, a 24-hour state-supported telephone hotline. Hotline staff can provide guidance on testing. 

Resources

Contact Us

How can we help?

Please provide as much detail below as possible so City staff can respond to your inquiry:

As a governmental entity, the Massachusetts Public Records Law applies to records made or received by the City. Any information received through use of this site is subject to the same provisions as information provided on paper.

Read our complete privacy statement


Service Requests

Enter a service request via Commonwealth Connect for things like missed trash pickups, potholes, etc.