Free COVID-19 tests are available at testing site locations on the Monterey Peninsula. Visit Monterey County Department of Health for additional COVID-19 resources and testing locations. Some clinics and pharmacies also offer testing. Register for a free test at a site near you, or call 1 (888) 634-1123 to make an appointment.
Yes — the right test for each person’s situation really does matter. Here are the different types of tests:
- PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests are highly reliable for people with or without symptoms. They show an active infection or recent past infection. If you do not have symptoms and want to be tested for travel, work, or some other reason, you should get a PCR test. (There are now also nucleic acid amplification tests, which are similar to PCR tests.) PCR tests are available for free at county testing sites. They are also available for a fee at Doctors on Duty, and through commercial labs such as Quest or ArcPoint.
- Antigen or rapid antigen tests should be used only if the patient has symptoms. The results are not reliable for people without symptoms, so antigen tests should not be performed on people without symptoms or for reasons such as travel or returning to work.
- Antibody tests indicate whether someone may have had an infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. It does not diagnose a current infection.
Timing on results varies; ask the provider you are using. Currently, tests processed by Community Hospital can take 4-24 hours for results to be available. If you are a Montage Health patient, signing up for MyChart, Montage Health’s online medical record, may help you receive test results faster, especially if your result is negative.
No. According to the CDC and Monterey County Health Department, you must quarantine for 10 days after the positive test result. A second test is not helpful as those who have tested positive can still test positive for COVID-19 for months after the positive result. After the 10 days, it is thought that you are no longer contagious to others if no symptoms are present.
Testing and repeat testing is not recommended to “clear” people to return to work after having COVID-19 or a COVID-like illness. Current recommendations are for people to be cleared to return to work based on CDC guidelines and improvement of symptoms without the need for a repeat test. Community Hospital receives many calls and visits from people who have been told they need to get a second test to return to work. Again, it’s not recommended and Community Hospital does not test people who do not have symptoms unless they are inpatients or having certain procedures.