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What tests are available to test for COVID-19?


1. Testing for active COVID-19 infection.


What kind of tests are available?

PCR testing (done using swab in nose or mouth, or from saliva sample): this tests for viral particles and ACTIVE infection. Samples are collected at the testing site (doctor's office, urgent care, County testing facility) and are sent for testing to a commercial lab such as LabCorp or Quest, or are run at the point-of-care testing site ("rapid" PCR test) - depending on symptoms and test availability. Home test kits are also available. Talk with your doctor about which test is most appropriate for you.

Antigen testing (done using swab in nose or mouth): this test can be done in certain settings for rapid screening to detect ACTIVE COVID-19 infection. 


What does the test result mean? 

A positive result means you are contagious to others and should self-isolate for up to 10 days as well as follow closely with your doctor. 

A negative result may mean that you do not have COVID-19. However, up to a third of PCR tests and up to half of Antigen tests are FALSE NEGATIVES - either because the test itself is not sensitive enough or because the test is done too early in the course of infection (before viral levels are high enough to be detected). 


Where can I get tested? 

  • COVID testing is available in doctors' offices, many urgent cares, some pharmacies, and various county testing sites. For up-to-date information on testing sites in LA County, CLICK HERE.

  • Home test kits are now readily available from most pharmacies and online. Most medical insurances including Medicare pay for home test kits either at the time of purchase, or via reimbursement when you submit a request/receipt.  Please check with your insurance company for details.

  • Talk with your doctor about the best way/place for you to get tested. This may depend on your symptoms, history of exposure, and specific needs.


2. Testing for PAST infection/exposure to COVID 19.

This can be done through Antibody or Serology testing (blood test), which tests for antibodies in the blood. The presence of antibodies indicates prior exposure to the virus or to a vaccine against the virus. Antibodies are immune cells that fight infection from pathogens such as viruses. Please note: there is no established antibody level that correlates with protection against COVID infection, so testing for antibodies is NOT recommended as a way of deciding whether to get the vaccine. Getting vaccinated is the best way you can prevent serious COVID infection.

Where can I get tested for COVID-19?

  • Testing at home:

    • Home antigen tests are readily available at most pharmacies and online. 

    • Home tests provide a result within 10-15 minutes

    • Additional information about home testing can be found on the CDC website

  • At your doctor's office - Talk with your doctor about the best way/place for you to get tested. This may depend on your symptoms, history of exposure, specific needs, and the availability of various tests.

  • SMFP Urgent Care - Our doctors are available to evaluate you and do appropriate testing (including COVID-19 testing). No appointment needed:

901 Wilshire Ave, Santa Monica CA 90403

Hours Mon - Fri 8:30 am - 7:30 pm, Sat - Sun 10 am - 2:30 pm

(310) 829-8441


Updated 9/5/22

what test?
where test?
PCR test
Antibody test
antigen testing
Home testing
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