|FDA - Coronavirus Testing Basics|
If you think you may have COVID-19, the most important thing to do is to isolate yourself from others and contact your healthcare provider about testing and care. Most people will have mild illness (or even no illness) and can recover at home without medical care and may not need to be tested. If testing is recommended, there are many FREE resources available and your provider should direct you to a location served by your health plan. If you do not have insurance, there are also many locations available for FREE testing.
There are three kinds of tests for for COVID-19: PCR/viral tests and serology/antibody tests.
- A PCR or molecular test tells you if you have a current infection. It is taken with a swab in the mouth, nose, or throat.
- An antigen test is a newer COVID-19 test that tells if you have a current infection. It is taken with a nasal or throat swab.
- An antibody (serology) test does NOT tell you if you are infected currently. It only tells you if you had a previous infection and currently is not recommended for individual use. It is done through a needle or fingerstick to get a blood sample.
For more information on the different types of tests visit HERE.
Resources on this page are for PCR/viral tests or antigen testing for COVID-19 in Orange County.
Who Should Get Tested?
People with symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested. The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure:
- Primary symptoms may include: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
- Other symptoms may include: fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea.
People without symptoms (asymptomatic) who meet the following Public Health criteria:
- Workers in congregate living settings such as skilled nursing facilities, jails, or homeless shelters.
- Healthcare workers and first responders.
- Individuals with close contact (15 minutes or more within 6 feet) to someone known or suspected to have COVID-19
- Essential workers – those with contact with the public such as such as grocery store workers, social service providers, government workers, etc.
Clearance from Isolation and Return to Work for Persons with Confirmed COVID-19 Infection
Persons with confirmed COVID-19 infection can have isolation precautions discontinued when their illness improves by three criteria:
- At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared and
- At least 24 hours have passed since last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
- Other symptoms have improved.
The CDC also offers a test-based strategy for discontinuing isolation. This strategy requires improvement in symptoms and at least two consecutive negative results from PCR testing of specimens collected at least 24 hours apart. However, because people (including healthcare workers) who are no longer infectious may continue to be PCR-positive for extended periods (4-6 weeks or longer), this strategy frequently leads to prolonged isolation periods and is not routinely recommended by OCHCA.
COVID-19 Testing Locations in Orange County
There are more than 50 testing locations in Orange County offering free testing to most or all eligible people, and many more through individual healthcare providers. Click here for a current list of most sites.
Where Can I Get Tested?
Ask your healthcare provider about testing. If you have health insurance, contact your healthcare provider about FREE testing and care. If you do not know how to reach your healthcare provider, call the customer service number on your insurance card, or click here to view websites of major healthcare providers in Orange County.
The following types of testing sites are available:
- Drive Thru Testing Clinics, Urgent Cares, and Labs. Many locations are now available for testing. They will utilize your health insurance with NO COPAY, and some - for example, CVS - will provide FREE testing for people without insurance. Contact them first to verify any costs and to make an appointment.
- OC COVID-19 Testing Network for those with Symptoms. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or someone in your household has COVID-19, and you cannot get a test though your healthcare provider, you can get a FREE medical assessment (check-up) and a test through the OC COVID-19 Testing Network. These are community health centers that offer testing and care, even if you don’t have health insurance.
- OC COVID-19 Testing Super Site for those with symptoms or meet other California Department of Public Health (CDPH) criteria. This site offers appointment-based drive-thru COVID-19 testing for individuals who cannot get a test through their medical provider and have symptoms or meet CDPH criteria such as being a healthcare worker, first responder, and other essential worker; or had close contact to someone with COVID-19.
- State of California OptumServe Testing Sites. These sites provide FREE testing with a brief medical screening to people who cannot get a test through their healthcare provider. These sites only offer testing and do not have a medical provider on site. These sites are recommended for people without symptoms (asymptomatic)– such as healthcare workers, first responders, and other essential workers; and those who have had close contact to someone with COVID-19. Register for testing through OptumServe Testing or call (888) 634-1123 if you do not have internet access.