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Testing remains a vital tool in the fight against COVID-19
Testing helps slow the spread of COVID-19 by identifying people without symptoms so that they can stay away from work and public places until their infectious period is over. Testing can also catch infections early - making treatments more effective.
If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, get tested as soon as possible.
If you are symptomatic and were exposed to someone with COVID-19, stay home and isolate.
Did you know that if you test positive with an at-home test and have symptoms, you are eligible for a free virtual visit with a doctor who can prescribe COVID-19 medication at no charge - regardless of insurance or citizenship status?
Make a FREE phone or video appointment with Sesame Telehealth today!
- Call 1-833-686-5051 for California's COVID-19 Treatment line, press 3 for Spanish OR
- Visit https://sesamecare.com/covid for Sesame Care COVID-19 providers
Visit our Treatment page to learn more about COVID-19 Treatment.
When to Get Tested
If You Have Symptoms
Get tested immediately if you are feeling any COVID-19 symptoms such as fatigue, headache, body/muscle aches, cough, fever, sore throat, and/or congestion.
If You Were Exposed
Consider getting tested as soon as possible if you were exposed to someone with COVID-19, even if you have no symptoms. Test again 5 days after exposure.
If You Are Attending an Event or Gathering
Get tested as close to the event date as possible. Consider testing 3-5 days after the event.
If You Are Traveling
Follow CDC recommendations for domestic and international travel. All people, whether they're vaccinated or not, should get tested within 3-5 days of arriving in California.
COVID-19 Tests & Where to Get Tested
While You're Awaiting Results
- Take steps to help prevent spread, including staying home, practicing physical distancing, wearing a well-fitting mask, washing hands frequently, and regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces.
- If you are sick, isolate at home until you get your results AND feel better. Click here for Self-Isolation Instructions.
- Get medical help right away if you start feeling sicker, especially if you have trouble breathing, persistent chest pain, begin to feel confused, cannot stay awake, or develop bluish lips or face.
- Call your health provider if your symptoms do not get better in a few days.
Types of COVID-19 tests
There are two different types of tests – diagnostic tests and antibody tests.
Diagnostic tests can detect if you have an active COVID-19 infection and need to take steps to isolate yourself from others. Samples for diagnostic tests are typically collected with a nasal or throat swab, or saliva collected by spitting into a tube. There are two common types of diagnostic tests available:
- Molecular tests, also known as a PCR test. The PCR molecular test is the "gold standard" for COVID-19 testing, is considered to be highly accurate and usually does not need to be repeated. Turn around averages 1-3 days, depending on lab processing.
- Antigen tests, commonly known as a "rapid test." With Antigen tests, positive results are usually accurate. Turn around is usually very fast, ranging from 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the test.
Antibody tests look for antibodies in your immune system produced in response to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. An antibody test can show if you were infected by the virus in the past but it cannot be used to diagnose an active COVID-19 infection.
Frequently Asked Questions
I'm vaccinated. Do I still need to get tested?
If you feel sick and are experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms, you should get tested regardless of your vaccination status. Vaccination protects against serious illness and hospitalization, but does not prevent infection in all cases.
What about false positive testing results?
No test is perfect, yet fortunately false positives are relatively rare. Marin County Public Health recommends treating a positive test result as a positive, regardless of whether it is an antigen or PCR test.
For information on quarantine and isolation visit CDPH or CDC websites.