COVID-19 Testing & Care

About antigen “self-tests”

While COVID antigen self-tests, also called at-home tests, can be beneficial to those who don't have access to PCR testing, they are significantly less accurate than the PCR tests available at Cornell and with most healthcare providers. Students with symptoms or concerns about exposure should call us at 607-255-5155 to be screened for a PCR test at Cornell Health. 

About contact tracing

If you test positive for COVID-19 and are asked to identify people with whom you have recently interacted, your honesty is crucial to helping control the spread of COVID-19 in our community. 

The information you provide will not be used to penalize any student for their behavior.

Cornell Health provides diagnostic testing for students with symptoms of / known exposure to COVID-19, and care for students who test positive for COVID-19. Please see detailed information below. 

(Please note: Cornell Health does NOT oversee the university's surveillance testing and supplemental testing programs.)

For information about vaccination, visit our COVID-19 Vaccination page.

Experiencing symptoms? Concerned about exposure?

Call 607-255-5155 (24/7)

Students who experience symptoms of COVID-19 – or have had close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with (or is being tested for) COVID-19 – should call Cornell Health for consultation. Please note that we are currently experiencing high call volume and you may be placed on hold until a staff member is available to speak with you.

Staff and faculty members who have symptoms or known exposure should contact their primary care provider.

Diagnostic testing 

Cornell Health provides diagnostic testing for students who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, have had known exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, or who meet other diagnostic criteria.

How to be tested for cause at Cornell Health:

  • Students should call us at 607-255-5155 during business hours to be pre-screened for testing (must meet diagnostic criteria). 
  • There is no cost for diagnostic testing at Cornell Health. 
  • Test results are typically are available within 24 hours. Students are expected to self-quarantine while they await their results.

    Care for students who test positive for COVID-19

    Students who test positive for COVID-19 – through the university's surveillance testing or through diagnostic testing at Cornell Health – are placed under the care of Cornell Health and the Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD).

    The TCHD monitors all positive COVID-19 cases in the county, including assessing isolation housing needs and conducting contact tracing. Cornell Health works closely with the TCHD, as well as with campus partners, to provide care and support for students with COVID-19.


    Students who are diagnosed with COVID-19 will be directed to self-isolate for approximately 10 days (length of time is determined on a case-by-case basis by the TCHD). Students should NOT leave Ithaca to self-isolate elsewhere.

    • Students living in university housing are provided with private isolation housing and meals. 
    • Students living off campus are assessed by the TCHD to determine whether they can self-isolate in their off-campus residence. If a student can’t self-isolate where they are, the TCHD works with Cornell Health staff to arrange appropriate isolation housing and meals.
    • All students in isolation are contacted each day by Cornell Health to help monitor their symptoms, and to provide additional support if needed (see more information below).

    Visit our Isolation for COVID-19 page for more details.

    Care for students with symptoms 

    Students who have tested positive for COVID-19 are contacted each day by Cornell Health to help monitor their symptoms, and to provide consultation, care management, and self-care guidance. Students are also contacted daily by the TCHD to monitor their recovery. Guidance for students about monitoring their own symptoms is available on our Isolation for COVID-19 page.

    Cornell Health and the TCHD work closely with the local hospital, Cayuga Medical Center, in the event that a student requires medical care or hospitalization for their symptoms. Information about the hospital's capacity to respond to a possible surge in COVID-19 cases is available on the Cayuga Health System website.

    Contacting / sharing information with family members: Students' personal health information is confidential. Students must sign a release before our staff can share information about a positive COVID-19 diagnosis with others, including family members. In the event of an emergency, Cornell Health will contact parents / family members that students have included in their emergency contacts. 

    Testing for Ithaca students in Geneva or NYC

    If you are an Ithaca campus student located in Geneva or in New York City (e.g., AAP in NYC), and your Daily Check status turns red ....

    1. Call Cornell Health during business hours607-255-5155.
    2. If a Cornell Health clinician determines that you need a diagnostic COVID-19 test, they can order a test for you. You can access and print your order through myCornellHealth and bring it to a testing site of your choice. 
    3. Be sure to have the testing provider send Cornell Health the test results, or you can upload the results to myCornellHealth

    Find a local testing site:


    If you have questions that are not addressed above, we invite you to call us during business hours at 607-255-5155, or email (please do not email personal health information).