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Free and confidential COVID-19 testing is available to everyone. Get vaccinated to reduce the need for testing.

How to get tested

Find a testing site near you

The California Department of Public Health provides a map of testing locations around the state at the link below.

Use an at-home test

Many drug stores now carry at-home test kits. These let you test yourself and get results within minutes. They are available over the counter, without a prescription. Check with your local pharmacy or retail store.

You can now get free at-home tests shipped to you by the U.S. government. Limit is one shipment per household.

You can also order an at-home test kit from the County of Orange Health Care Agency.

Get tested at a mobile clinic

Mobile COVID-19 clinics are providing vaccines and test kits to everyone, including uninsured individuals. For current and additional locations, dates and times, visit Othena.com or call (800) 564-8448.

When to get tested

If you have symptoms

Vaccinated or not, get tested immediately if you’re feeling any COVID-19 symptoms. If an antigen test is negative, take another in 24-48 hours, as early cases can be missed.

If you were exposed

Anyone exposed should consider getting tested as soon as possible, even if you have no symptoms.

Test again 5 days after exposure.

If you go to a high-risk event

Test before and 3-5 days after.

For mega-events of more than 1,000 people, it’s strongly recommended that attendees test 1 day (antigen test) or 2 days (PCR test) before the event.

If you travel

Test before travel, and 3-5 days after.

Vaccinated or not, anyone entering or re-entering California should test 3-5 days after arrival.

Read more in CDPH’s testing fact sheet.

Testing at work

Screening tests are recurring tests of people without symptoms in certain high-risk workplaces. They are meant to detect COVID-19 early and stop transmission.

In general,

  • Vaccinated individuals do not need screening tests in non-healthcare settings.
  • Asymptomatic employees in healthcare settings should still get screening tests. This is true no matter their vaccination status. There are a few exceptions:
    • Facilities may stop routine testing of asymptomatic staff who are vaccinated where:
      • More than 70 percent of residents and more than 70% staff are vaccinated in a long-term care facility, or
      • More than 70 percent of staff are vaccinated in an acute health care facility.
    • Facilities may continue routine testing for vaccinated staff with compromised immune systems. Examples are those who have undergone organ transplantation or cancer treatment. These conditions might impact the level of protection provided by COVID-19 vaccine.

Read CDPH’s Updated Testing Guidance for more about workplace screening tests.

Questions and answers

What should I do if I may have been exposed to COVID-19?

Depending on your vaccination status and infection history, you may need to quarantine (stay home) from high-risk settings. Read about when and how to quarantine.

Consider getting tested 3-5 days after exposure, even if you’re vaccinated and don’t have symptoms. Know your status so you can avoid infecting others. Wear a mask around others until you’re sure you’re not infected.

What should I do if I test positive for COVID-19?

Check with a medical provider to see if you are eligible for treatment as soon as possible. Do not wait for symptoms to get worse – early treatment is best. Read more about COVID-19 treatments.

You will need to isolate (stay home and avoid others) until the threat of infecting other people has passed. Read about how to isolate.

Notify people you have been in contact with so they can get tested, too. If you’re using CA Notify, send an exposure notification.

Does my health plan have to cover my COVID-19 test at a testing site?

Yes. Federal guidance requires health plans to provide testing at no cost to everyone they cover. You do not need to have symptoms or to have been exposed to COVID-19. You do not need to be an “essential worker” to get tested. To get tested you can go to any COVID-19 testing provider authorized or licensed by the state. You do not need to go to a provider that is in your health plan’s or health insurer’s provider network. You do not need to get permission from your health plan or health insurer before going to get a COVID-19 test. And you do not need to pay a co-payment for a COVID-19 test.

What if I don’t have health insurance and I need COVID-19 testing?

Mobile COVID-19 clinics are providing vaccines and test kits to uninsured individuals. For current and additional locations, dates and times, visit Othena.com or call (800) 564-8448.

How long does it take for COVID-19 test results to come back?

Results from rapid antigen tests are available in an hour or less. PCR COVID-19 lab test results are usually returned in less than two days. For labs that process home testing kits, turnaround time depends on when you mail back your kit.

If you haven’t received your test results and it’s been several days, contact:

  • Your healthcare provider
  • Testing service

Read more at California’s COVID-19 Testing Task Force.

What is acceptable as proof of a negative COVID-19 test result?

The following are accepted:

  • Printed document from your test provider or laboratory
  • An email or text message displayed on your phone from your test provider or laboratory

Results should include name of person tested, type of test, and date of negative test result. For PCR, the negative result must be from the last 3 days. For antigen, the negative result must be from the last day.

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