At-Home Rapid COVID Testing

At-Home Rapid COVID-19 Testing

What are self-tests?
 Self-tests, also called home tests or over-the-counter tests, are COVID-19 tests that can be taken anywhere and produce rapid results.

These tests are often sold or given directly to individuals and can be used by people at their homes, or any location. They do not need to be performed in a doctor’s office or COVID testing site.

The results are ‘rapid’ or available right away. No samples need to be sent to a lab.

More information on self-tests can be found here:

What types of self-tests does Baltimore City Health Department distribute?

Currently, Baltimore City is distributing two brands of self-tests:  Abbot BinaxNow and Acon FlowFlex.

Both of these tests are rapid antigen tests that can be done at home by individuals.

Both of these tests can be used for people with and without symptoms, regardless of vaccination status.

More information on each test, including instructions on how to use them and links to videos on how to use them, are below.


Type of At-Home Test


Acon FlowFlex

Abbot BinaxNow

Type of test

Rapid Antigen test

Rapid Antigen test

What ages can use this test?

  • 14 years or older
  • Test kit can be used for children as young a 2 years old when samples are collected by an adult
  • 15 years or older
  • Test kit can be used for children as young as 2 years old when samples are collected by an adult

Sample collection

Nose swab at front of the nose

Nose swab at front of the nose

How long does it take for results to be ready

15 minutes

15 minutes

How do I use the Acon FlowFlex test?

Click for instructions for the Acon FlowFlex ENGLISH SPANISH

Click here for videos on how to use the Acon FlowFlex test kit

Click here for FlowFlex Quick Reference Guide

How do I use an Abbot BinaxNOW™ test?

Click for instructions for the Abbot BinaxNow ENGLISH

Click here for videos on how to use the Abbot BinaxNow test kit

(Scroll to bottom of page)

How can I report the results of my rapid test kit?

How to report results for rapid test kits

Acon FlowFlex

Abbot BinaxNow

Maryland Department of Health At-Home Test Result Portal





Download the free NAVICA app and follow instructions for reporting results through the app. You can search for NAVICA by Abbott in the Apple or Android app store, or go to and register for a free account.




Call positive results to Baltimore City Health Department COVID Call Center





How can I get a free at-home COVID test kit?

Baltimore City Health Department is distributing COVID test kits through several pathways:

  • Free distribution events with Enoch Pratt Free Libraries. The next distribution event is scheduled for Saturday, January 15 at 10 AM.
  • The Health Department’s Syringe Services Program
  • Through Community Based Organizations. Organizations can apply HERE.

At all locations, test kits are available in limited quantities, on a first-come-first-served basis.

Who should use a self-test?

You can use a self-test if you have any COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

Even if you don’t have symptoms or have not been exposed to COVID-19, using a self-test before gathering indoors with others can give you information about the risk of spreading COVID-19. This is especially important before gathering with unvaccinated children, older individuals, those who are immunocompromised, or individuals at risk of severe disease.

The test kit is designed for personal use only. If you need a documented result for travel, employment, return to school, or other purposes, you should verify whether or not this test will satisfy the testing requirement. 

Please be aware of the expiration date on the test kit.

What is the difference between at-home tests and other COVID tests?

Most self-tests are rapid antigen tests. A Rapid Antigen test looks for certain proteins of the virus, which help determine if someone is infectious, or likely to transmit the virus to others.

A PCR test looks for the genetic material of the virus. It is the best test for highly accurate diagnosis.

More information is available on the different types of testing here:

Where can I get a PCR test?

You can find testing locations here:

Or here:

What should I do if I test positive?

A positive test result indicates you likely are infected with COVID-19, regardless of your vaccination status. Even if you have no symptoms and feel well, you should assume you are contagious. Next steps:

  1. ISOLATE at home. Stay away from others for a minimum of 5 days, and wear a mask when around others for at least a total of 10 days.

Instructions on how long to isolate are here:

Note: Individuals living in congregate settings are recommended to isolate for 10 days.

If you live are unable to isolate where you live, Baltimore City offers isolation assistance for which information can be found here:

2. REPORT YOUR RESULTS. See the instructions above about how to report your test results.

By reporting your results the Health Department will be able to:

  • Provide you with specific instructions on isolation
  • Connect you to resources to help with isolation or quarantine, such as assistance with food or housing, if needed
  • Notify your close contacts in a confidential manner of their potential exposure to COVID-19 and provide them with guidance on if they should quarantine

4. Contact your healthcare provider. Seek follow-up care from your healthcare provider as soon as possible, as you may need additional testing and treatment. Monitor your symptoms and if you have emergency warning signs, seek emergency medical care.

5. Answer the call. If you are called by contact tracers and see “MD COVID” on your phone, answer the call. More information can be found here:

What should I do if I test negative?

If your test is the Abbott BinaxNOW™, you should use the second test in your kit to test again in at least 24 hours, and no longer than 48 hours, after the first test.

If your test is the Flowflex™ test, you do not need to take another test in 1-2 days.

A negative result means the virus that causes COVID-19 is not found in your specimen.  It likely means that you do not have COVID-19 if you took the test while you had symptoms and followed all instructions carefully.

However, it is possible for a test to give a negative result in some people who have COVID-19 (this is called a false negative). You could also test negative if the specimen was collected too early in your infection. In this case, you could test positive later during your illness.

 Where can I get a COVID vaccine?

Up to date information about vaccination including weekly schedules for COVID vaccination and boosters can be found here:

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