Healthy You - Every Day

Free At-Home COVID-19 Tests Now Available

How you can order your free tests and when you should test for COVID-19

COVID-19 tests

It’s cold and flu season, which means it’s not uncommon to have symptoms such as cough or runny nose. But before you make an appointment at LVHN ExpressCARE or with your family doctor, Timothy Friel, MD, infectious diseases physician and Chair, Department of Medicine, with Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN), suggests testing for COVID-19.

“COVID-19 remains active across the country and in our own community. Unfortunately, we are still encountering a significant number of patients with symptoms, and we expect that cases will increase as we move deeper into the fall and winter seasons,” Dr. Friel says. “Early diagnosis allows high-risk patients to receive therapies that reduce the risk of severe symptoms, hospitalization and even death.”

You can test for COVID-19 in the comfort of your home at no cost. The government is offering four free at-home COVID-19 tests to all U.S. households. Visit to submit your order. Testing kits and shipping are free, and you can expect to receive your tests in 7-12 days. At-home COVID-19 tests also are available to purchase from your local pharmacy or drug store.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also recently extended the expiration for many COVID-19 at-home test kits. Manufacturers of the tests provided the FDA with data showing the shelf-life of the expired test kits was longer than they previously thought. You can check to see if the expiration date on your COVID-19 test kit has been extended at

When to test for COVID-19

COVID-19 includes a range of symptoms, and it can be difficult to differentiate it from other illnesses such as cold, allergies or influenza. Dr. Friel says if you suspect you could have COVID-19, it’s best to test to confirm.

Many patients who are diagnosed with COVID will benefit from therapy with currently available medications such as Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir-ritonavir) and Lagevrio (molnupiravir). These medications are recommended for patients who are at high-risk for complications and hospitalization, including those with weakened immune systems, obesity, chronic lung disease, chronic kidney disease, heart disease, hypertension, active cancers, sickle cell disease, chronic neurologic disorders, as well as people who smoke and those over the age of 60.

Some of the most common COVID-19 symptoms that may warrant a test include:

  • Fever/chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion
  • Nausea or vomiting

If you don’t have at-home tests available, you can be tested for COVID-19 at all LVHN ExpressCARE locations. Masks are required at all LVHN locations if you have respiratory symptoms or a suspected/confirmed case of COVID-19.

LVHN Video Visits available

If you have respiratory symptoms or test positive for COVID-19 and need to see a doctor, Dr. Friel encourages video visits as your first option. “A video visit allows you to connect conveniently with a clinician without leaving your home. The clinician can assess your symptoms, determine whether treatment is needed and provide appropriate education while reducing the likelihood of exposing other patients and health care workers,” Dr. Friel says.

ExpressCARE Video Visits are available through MyLVHN to patients, age 3 years and older, who are in the state of Pennsylvania. You will need a MyLVHN account to use the video visit service. If you don’t have one, create one at or download the free app from Apple App Store or Google Play.

To schedule an ExpressCARE Video Visit:

  • Log in to your MyLVHN account
  • Select “Menu”
  • Select “ExpressCARE Video Visit”
  • Answer required questions to schedule appointment.

For step-by-step instructions on how to schedule your ExpressCARE Video Visit, go to:

ExpressCARE Video Visit Step by Step Instructions

You can also schedule video visits with your LVPG provider or specialist. To schedule an appointment with your clinician:

  • Log in to your MyLVHN account
  • Select “Main Menu”
  • Select “Schedule an appointment or video visit”
  • Choose “Office Video Visit”

LVHN also offers On Demand video visits, which gives you the option to either wait in line or schedule ahead. To get to that option, log in to MyLVHN and select “Schedule ExpressCARE Video Visit”, and choose the option to wait in line or schedule your visit.

If you have severe respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath or trouble breathing, you should go to an emergency department.

Michelle Rojas, RN, Emergency Medicine, Lehigh Valley Hospital-Hazleton

COVID-19 Help Center

As your health partner, LVHN provides all the COVID-19 information you need in one place.

Explore More Articles