With the new omicron coronavirus variant circulating throughout Southern California, infection numbers rising and the holidays approaching, health officials have been advising residents to get tested.
The main advice remains to get vaccinated, wear face masks, keep gatherings small and gather outdoors if possible this holiday.
Los Angeles County health officials said it’s a good idea to test before joining others at a holiday gathering “as an added precaution,” especially if gathering with people who are at high risk of severe illness or if there are unvaccinated people crowding together indoors.
Residents can opt to get tested at city or county-operated sites, local pharmacies or through their health care providers. Here’s how to find a testing location:
County and city-operated sites
Walk-up and appointment-only testing locations are providing free coronavirus tests at pop-up and community locations throughout the region.
Here the county and city websites to visit to find a testing location near you:
- Los Angeles County
- Orange County (County is sending out home self-collection test kits for free to those who live or work in Orange County but it takes 24-48 hours for orders to be fulfilled)
- Riverside County
- Ventura County
- San Bernardino County
You can also use Curative’s map to find a testing location near you, and filter it for sites that accept walk-ins.
Be sure to check hours before heading to a site, since many may be closed on Friday and Saturday for the Christmas holiday.
Many pharmacy locations offer PCR and rapid coronavirus testing, though many of the pharmacies had limited appointment availabilities for rapid tests leading up to the Christmas holiday.
Clinics and health care providers
Many clinics throughout Southern California are offering PCR and antigen COVID-19 testing. Patients can also check with their health care providers.
At-home COVID-19 tests
Many pharmacies now carry at-home kits, including the BinaxNow antigen tests. These kits let you test yourself and are available over the counter, without a prescription.
Results are ready within minutes after using an at-home self-test kit.
A representative for BinaxNow told the L.A. Times that there’s been “unprecedented demand” for the kits ahead of Christmas weekend.
The CDC says that a negative self-test result means that the test did not detect the virus, but it does not rule out infection. Repeating the test a few days later, with at least 24 hours between tests, will “increase the confidence that you are not infected.”
When should you get tested?
Health officials advise residents to get tested for the virus if they:
- Have COVID-19 symptoms
- Have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 within the last 14 days
- Are returning from international travel (regardless of vaccination status)
- If they are unvaccinated, they should test before and 3-5 days after going to a high-risk event
- Live or work in a place where other people have been diagnosed with COVID-19
- Are not fully vaccinated and they work or study in a setting where COVID-19 vaccination or regular testing is required
- Are not fully vaccinated and are participating in an organized youth sports
- Are not fully vaccinated and are teachers or students in a school
- Are not fully vaccinated and have traveled to another state. Testing is recommended 1-3 days before and 3-5 days after travel.
Types of Testing
There are different kinds of tests for COVID-19:
- 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. It could take an average of 1-3 days for a result, depending on where you get tested.
- 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 and results usually come out the same day.
- An antibody test does not tell you if you are infected currently. It only tells you if you had a previous infection. It is done through a needle or finger stick to get a blood sample.