COVID-19 PCR Testing FAQ

Please DO NOT visit the Emergency Department for COVID-19 testing.

Schedule a drive-through COVID-19 PCR test appointment at Cheshire Medical Center, 580 Court St, Keene via or the MyChart app.

You will not receive a medical screening at this appointment.

Please review all of the important information below before you schedule an appointment at Cheshire Medical Center.

Register for a myDH account here if you don’t have one yet. You do NOT have to be an established Cheshire Medical Center or Dartmouth Health patient to create an account or schedule a COVID-19 test in Keene. Each person requiring a test needs their own myDH account.

What's on this page?

After your PCR test

Based on where I live, do I meet the residency requirements to be tested through this community program?

You need to be a resident within the Monadnock Public Health Region, or currently have a Cheshire Medical Center provider to be tested at Cheshire Medical Center.

Many local pharmacies and other facilities also offer PCR testing, such as Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS, and ConvenientMD.

When should I be tested for COVID-19?

Anyone may be tested, but patients with active symptoms may be given priority. Please see the CDC's Symptoms of Coronavirus page for more up-to-date information.

Get tested if

  • If you develop symptoms that may be COVID-19, even if you have been fully vaccinated and boosted. When you have symptoms, an at-home rapid antigen tests can be a good alternative to scheduling a PCR test because you can trust a positive antigen test and will not have to wait for results.
  • If you develop symptoms that may be COVID-19 but receive a negative result from an at-home rapid antigen test. While positive antigen tests results can be trusted, negative antigen test results are often inaccurate. Learn more on our Rapid Antigen Test page.
  • If you have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 but do not develop symptoms, NH DHHS recommends you schedule a PCR test for 2-4 days after exposure. Some people do not experience symptoms but test positive and are infectious, so need to self-isolate instead of quarantine. For more information, see the CDC's Quarantine and Isolation page.

You do NOT need a PCR test if

  • You get a positive result from an at-home rapid antigen test. Trust that you have COVID-19 and are infectious right now. Notify recent close contacts, report your positive result to your primary care provider or the state, and follow the CDC's isolation guidelines. Learn more on our Rapid Antigen Test page.

What is the PCR COVID-19 test I can schedule at Cheshire? How is it given?

We use the SalivaDirect PCR test, except in rare exceptions (such as very young children)

To prepare for the SalivaDirect COVID-19 test

  • At least 30 minutes prior to sample collection: avoid drinks, food, smoking, nasal sprays, teeth cleaning, and chewing gum.
  • At least 10 minutes prior to collection: do NOT consume water. 
  • Follow these five easy steps to collect saliva for the test: Saliva Collection Steps (PDF)


The SalivaDirect PCR test was developed by the Yale School of public health - view FDA EUA given in August 2020 and updated in June 2021. Some viral misinformation recently misinterpreted a CDC Alert that simply requests any labs still using the original PCR test developed by the CDC cease using it in favor of more advanced tests, such as the SalivaDirect PCR.

When and how should I use home-based, rapid COVID-19 antigen tests instead?

Home-based tests (also called antigen tests) are convenient tools, but they are only reliable when they give a positive result, unless under certain circumstances. Aalok Khole, MD, discusses when to trust their results, when to use them in series, and when to use a PCR test instead on our Rapid Antigen Test page.

    What are the risks and benefits of getting a PCR test?

    Potential risks include:

    • A PCR test is so sensitive that it may give a positive result when you have recently recovered from COVID-19 but are no longer infectious.
    • It is possible that this test can give a positive result that is wrong (a false-positive result).
    • There is very a small possibility for this test to give a negative result that is incorrect (false negative).

    Potential benefits include:

    • The results can help your healthcare provider make informed recommendations about your care.
    • The results of this test may help limit the spread of COVID-19 to your family and others in your community who may become severely ill or die.

    How do I schedule an appointment?

    To request an appointment for COVID-19 testing, you must meet the residency requirements (you have a provider at Cheshire or live in the Monadnock Region Public Health Region).

    The best way to schedule an appointment is through the myDH patient portal or your myDH MyChart app.

    Click here to sign up for myDH.

    Once you have created an account, do the following:

    • Click on Menu > Schedule an Appointment
    • Under "Tell Us Why You’re Coming In" scroll down to COVID-19 Test > Keene
    • Answer questions
    • Select your appointment from the options


    If you’re not able to use myDH or myChart to self-schedule an appointment, please call your provider’s office.

    For information in Spanish, call 1-833-625-9604 and a Spanish interpreter will answer and interpret calls.

    Test results are generally available within 2-5 days through the myDH patient portal and myChart app. If you do not already use myDH, sign up for an account.

    How long does it take to get my test result and how can I get this information?

    Your test result will be available within 2 to 3 business days. To receive your results, check your myDH account. This is the fastest way to get your result.

    If you need to sign up for a myDH account, click here to register. We will also mail your result via USPS to your address on file.

    Please do not call to find out whether your result is positive or negative. The attendants answering the phone line do not have access to this information.

    • If your result is positive, you will be notified via your myDH account (preferred, so that you can easily see written educational materials), phone, or US mail. You’ll receive information on how to manage your illness, monitor your symptoms, and protect your loved ones. Please be sure to check your myDH messages regularly.
    • If your result is negative, you will not receive a call. You will be notified via myDH or US mail. A negative test result only means that you did not have COVID-19 at the time of testing or that your sample was collected too early in your infection. Symptoms may appear 1 to 10 days after exposure to the virus. You could also be exposed to COVID-19 after the test and then get infected and spread the virus to others.

    What should I do if testing is canceled due to bad weather?

    Please schedule a new appointment via your myDH account if COVID-19 testing and outpatient appointments are canceled due to bad weather. This is a rare occurrence, but New Englanders must be ready for anything.

    How much does the test cost, and what if I don’t have insurance?

    The test costs $150. Cheshire will bill your insurance.

    If you don’t have insurance or do not have full benefits for COVID-19 testing, apply for the NH COVID-19 Testing Benefit. If you need help applying for this benefit, let us know. Nobody will be turned away based on their ability to pay.

    Where do I go and what do I do when I arrive for my scheduled appointment time?

    Scheduled appointments take place in the Employee Parking Lot behind the Medical Center at 580 Court Street in Keene, NH.

    What if I have questions about COVID-19?

    Please review this page for the most up-to-date COVID-19 information and FAQs.

    Who should I contact about scheduling appointments for my business, school, or other organization?

    Please send an email to with your request and as much detail as possible. Someone will respond to your email within 2 business days.

    What should I do while waiting for my test result?

    What should I do if I receive a positive test result?

    What if I receive a negative test result?

    • You were probably not infected at the time your sample was collected.
    • However, that does not mean you will not get sick.
    • It is possible that you were very early in your infection when your sample was collected and that you could test positive later.
    • If you were exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 please Review New Hampshire DHHS Quarantine and Isolation requirements.

    Other important information

    Seek emergency medical care immediately if you have:

    • Trouble breathing
    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    • New confusion
    • Inability to wake or stay awake
    • Bluish lips or face

    Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility. Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.

    This initiative was financed under a contract with the State of New Hampshire, Department of Health and Human Services, with funds provided in part by the State of New Hampshire and/or such other funding sources as were available or required, e.g., the United States Department of Health and Human Services.