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COVID-19 Status Update for 10/23/2020

The Marin County COVID-19 Status Update for October 23 includes a video message about gratitude during a crisis; updated COVID-19 data; a red flag warning; a potential public safety power shutoff warning.

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COVID-19 Testing Information

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Overview

Testing for COVID-19 is one of the most common questions asked of Marin Public Health. This page provides an overview of COVID-19 testing information. Click below to skip to a specific section:

 

Should I be tested for COVID-19?

Marin County Public Health, the California Department of Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend you be tested for COVID-19 if you meet one of the following criteria:

  • You are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, including including fever, chills, cough, congestion, sore throat, difficulty breathing, headache, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, or new loss of taste or smell;
  • You were notified by Marin Public Health as being high risk or a "close contact" to a person confirmed to have COVID-19;
  • You work in a high-risk setting, such as a hospital or medical clinic, long-term care facility, homeless shelter or prison; OR
  • You work in an occupation where you experience frequent contact with the public on a daily basis, including jobs as first responders, teachers, personal caregivers, housekeepers, construction workers, food service / restaurant workers, gas station and grocery store workers.

Due to testing supply shortages, many COVID-19 test providers prioritize testing for people who meet this criteria. Prioritizing testing helps ensure those patients with the highest risk of infection are quickly identified and can isolate, especially when testing and lab processing are in high demand.

If you do not meet this criteria but believe you need testing -- or are seeking testing required for travel or medical-related procedures -- please consult your insurance provider, medical provider or neighborhood medical clinic.

 

Where can I get tested?

The testing landscape has changed in Marin County and more COVID-19 testing options are available through medical providers, self-referral sites and at-home testing options. If you are experiencing symptoms or meet the criteria above, your first stop for testing should be your medical/healthcare provider, primary physician or local medical clinic. Please review this page to understand all testing options in Marin County and determine what is the best option for you.

 

🔷 Testing Through a Medical Provider

All health care providers in Marin County are required to offer COVID-19 testing.  Most providers offer testing to patients who meet the testing criteria noted above (see "Should I be tested for COVID-19?" on this page).  Contact your provider or neighborhood clinic to discuss your need for testing, including testing required for travel or medical procedures. Your medical provider can direct you to the most appropriate testing resource to meet your needs.

Click on the a link below to learn more about testing with your health care provider, neighborhood clinic or hospital (this is a sample list and may not cover all healthcare coverage offered in Marin County):

Local Healthcare Network Providers:

Local Neighborhood Clinics:

Local Hospitals:

 

🔷 Self-Referral Testing

The following locations do not require a doctor referral for testing. However, testing availability may be prioritized for people who meet the criteria listed above (see "Should I be tested for COVID-19?" on this page).  Note: Test result turn-around time varies by testing location.  If you are seeking testing for travel or medical procedure purposes, you should discuss your test result certification needs prior to scheduling an appointment.

Click on the name of a testing provider below for details about appointment availability, cost, and other requirements. Testing at sites listed below is by appointment only (no drop-ins).

 

🔷 At-Home Self Testing

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has approved COVID-19 at-home collection kits to determine whether you are currently infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. All at-home test services generally require you to complete some type of questionnaire or online consultation to assess your COVID-19 risk. Then you will be sent a test along with instructions on how to collect a sample and submit by mail. Results are usually delivered through an app, email, or by phone within 72 hours of the lab receiving your sample.  Some insurance carriers cover the cost of at-home testing. 

Below is a list of FDA-authorized vendors of at-home COVID-19 test kits:

WARNING: The FDA has warned of companies selling fake or unproven COVID-19 tests. If you order a an at-home test kit online, make sure it's authorized by the FDA.

 

🔷 Testing for Underserved Communities

The State of California hosts a dedicated testing site in San Rafael by appointment only.  Make an appointment at https://lhi.care/covidtesting. If you do not have internet access, call: 1-888-634-1123. This site is open to uninsured, underinsured, undocumented and homeless individuals. If you have medical insurance, OptumServe will bill your insurance company. Tests for uninsured individuals will be paid for by the state. 

 

When will I receive my test results?

Return of test results varies greatly by the company/provider performing the COVID-19 test and the laboratory used to analyze and confirm the results.  On average, you can expect to receive your test results within 2-3 business days, however, some medical providers are able to obtain results more quickly. Results may be delivered by phone, email or text message -- depending on the company/provider performing the test. Be sure to confirm your desired communication preferences when scheduling your test so the company/medical provider can reach you as soon as your test results are available.

 

Where to Seek Travel -Related Testing?

Some states and countries require a negative COVID-19 viral test before entry.  Often, these tests must have been completed within 24-72 hours before arrival. Conditions for entry vary by destination: be sure to research the latest travel and health restrictions for your planned destination (or verify requirements with your airline) prior to scheduling your COVID-19 test.

In addition, some destinations – such as Hawaii – will only accept test results from select providers.  Before scheduling your COVID-19 test, check with your COVID-19 test provider to ensure they can accommodate your specific travel requirements, including test result certification.

Marin County Public Health does not provide travel-related testing.  However, there are several COVID-19 test providers in Marin County or at local airports to fulfill your travel testing needs:

 

Where to Seek Medical / Dental Procedure -Related Testing?

Some healthcare facilities require a negative COVID-19 viral test before undergoing a medical, dental or surgical procedure.  This is because most procedures involve close contact between you and your practitioner.  The time in which your COVID-19 test must be completed before your procedure varies by provider and the procedure prescribed for you.  Confirm testing and test result reporting requirements before scheduling your COVID-19 test.

Marin County Public Health does not provide medical/dental procedure -related testing. Discuss COVID-19 testing options with your primary care medical provider or consider a self-referral or at-home test option if allowed by your procedure provider.  

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Have more questions about COVID-19 testing in Marin County, including what to do if you test positive? Please visit our "Frequently Asked Questions" page to answer your testing -related questions.

 

Types of COVID-19 Tests

Molecular Test

Serological Test

About

First type of test on the market and used by WHO and CDC. It is also known as Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing.

This antibody test is still in development. Unlike the molecular test, the serological test can identify those that were infected and have recovered.

How it's administered

Administered using a 6-inch nasal swab (although a saliva-based test may be on the market soon).

Administered using a blood sample (usually a finger prick)

Results

Result take a few hours to days but a rapid (less than an hour) test is in development.

For most methods, results take about 10-15 minutes

How it works

Detects viral genetic material, usually from your nasal passages.

Detects antibodies, which are proteins made by your body after you've been infected by COVID-19, in your blood.

How effective it is

There is a chance this test will deliver a FALSE result even if you do have COVID-19 (false negative).

Most of these tests have not yet been reviewed by the FDA.  A negative test does not rule out a past COVID-19 infection.

Important Information

If you have symptoms you should quarantine yourself even if you have a negative test result.

Antibody testing should not be used as the sole based to determine infection status.

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How Contact Tracing Relates to COVID-19 Testing

Marin Public Health has a team of "contact investigators" who play a crucial role in the COVID-19 response.  When a person tests positive for COVID-19, the team calls the person to gather a list of close contacts who are at high risk of exposure. Everyone on that list is then contacted to arrange for testing and quarantine in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.  While these close contacts are awaiting test results, they are commonly referred to as a Person Under Investigation (PUI).

In addition to gathering a list of close contacts, the contact investigation team evaluates symptoms and provides education regarding quarantine and/or isolation for COVID-19 infected persons, PUIs and any members of their households.

Here is some additional information from Marin's Public Health Officer about how contact tracing works and why it is important.

 

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