Symptomatic Testing

Please note that symptomatic test kit pick-up hours at traffic booths are changing. Test kits may be picked up at the Tower Rd. traffic booth near Stocking Hall (drive-up only) or the Campus Rd. traffic booth near Carpenter Hall (walk-up only) between the hours of 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. on Sundays only. Symptomatic test kits also remain available at any test site during regular hours.

Testing for individuals experiencing symptoms of COVID-19

Cornell provides Symptomatic Test Kits to students, faculty and staff who are experiencing mild to moderate symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 and who have not tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days. Individuals experiencing severe symptoms (i.e., difficulty breathing, high fever) should stay home and seek medical attention. Students should contact Cornell Health at 607-255-5155 for testing. Faculty and staff should contact their primary care provider.

Cornell’s Symptomatic Test Kits include two components: an antigen-based test, which provides rapid results within 15 minutes; and a saliva test, which will only be used in the event that a symptomatic person tests negative using the antigen test.

Rapid results from the antigen tests allow individuals to self-isolate within minutes of receiving a positive test result, thereby minimizing the risk of transmitting the virus to others. In general, individuals who test positive through an antigen test are almost certainly positive. However, due to a variety of factors, it is possible to have a false negative. Therefore, individuals with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 who have a negative antigen test are required to complete a secondary PCR saliva test to rule out possible COVID-19 infection.

How symptomatic individuals can access test kits

Symptomatic test kits are available to students, faculty and staff at any test site during regular hours or at the Tower Rd. traffic booth near Stocking Hall (drive-up only) or the Campus Rd. traffic booth near Carpenter Hall (walk-up only) between 10 and 12:00 noon on Sundays. You must show your Cornell ID in order to pick up a kit, which will contain both an antigen and saliva test along with detailed instructions for completion.

How to report your antigen test results

After performing the antigen test, immediately report the results by scanning the QR code using a smartphone and following the prompts. If you do not have a smartphone, follow the instructions on the label. You must report the result (positive or negative) before continuing with any next steps.

  • Individuals who test positive using the antigen test should follow isolation guidance from the Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD). You should also notify close contacts that they may have been exposed, should monitor themselves for symptoms, and follow TCHD quarantine guidance. Cornell Health provides information for students who test positive, as well as answers to the questions most often asked by students in quarantine/isolation.
  • Individuals who test negative using the antigen test must report their negative result using the QR code on the antigen test kit, then complete the saliva test provided in the Symptomatic Test Kit. Follow the saliva test instructions provided, scan the QR code to register the test, and deposit the test in one of the saliva drop-off boxes located on the map below. This procedure is necessary because antigen testing occasionally fails to detect the virus that causes COVID-19 (called a false negative result). The saliva sample you provide will be tested using a PCR-based method, which rarely returns false negative results. Processing of your saliva sample will be completed quickly.
    • Drop-off before 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, test results will be ready the next day
    • Drop-off between 4:30 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Sunday, test results will be ready on Sunday
    • Drop-off after 10 a.m. on Sunday, test results will be ready on Monday
  • Once test results are ready, if the saliva sample is positive, you will receive an email message from Cornell, and possibly also from New York state. You will not be notified if the saliva sample is negative.

Test Instructions for Individuals with COVID-19 Symptoms

Antigen Test

Please do not perform your test(s) in a public location. You may perform the test(s) in your room, home or private vehicle.

  1. Find the Ziplock bag with PINK “Do this first” sticker on it. Remove the antigen kit contents. DO NOT THROW Ziplock bag away.
  2. Follow the instructions provided.
  3. Using your phone, scan the QR code on the outside of the Ziplock bag. This will open the reporting form and allow you to enter your test results.

IF YOUR ANTIGEN RESULT IS POSITIVE – after uploading your results, return all contents to the brown paper bag and throw it away..

IF YOUR ANTIGEN RESULT IS NEGATIVE – after uploading your antigen test results, conduct the enclosed PCR saliva test.

Saliva Test

IMPORTANT: You must wait at least 30 minutes since your last food or drink before collecting your sample!

  1. Follow the instructions on the saliva collection kit bag to collect a saliva sample.
  2. After collecting your saliva sample, scan the QR code on the tube to register your sample.
  3. Once registered, return your saliva test to one of the collection box locations listed on the map. Collection boxes are available for 24/7 drop off.
  4. If the saliva sample is positive, you will receive an email message from Cornell, and possibly also from New York state. You will not be notified if the saliva sample is negative.

Self-Report a Positive Test Result

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 outside of the region, through a home antigen test, or any other non-Cornell or Cayuga Medical Center testing within the past 90 days, report your result in the Daily Check under the “Self-Reported Positive” heading. This information is critical for Cornell, as it may exempt you from testing.

For assistance with testing, visit the COVID-19 Support Center.

Symptomatic Test Kit Pick Up and Saliva Sample Drop Off Locations

Additional Guidance