Testing in San Diego County

COVID-19 tests are used to evaluate your health for COVID-19 infection and help public health agencies control the virus’ spread. Testing also helps identify specific areas and groups with higher rates of infection. Understanding these patterns is important to protect the public’s health and continue safely reopening the County.

If you are experiencing symptoms, contact your healthcare provider. If you do not have a healthcare provider, call 2-1-1. If you have serious symptoms, like difficulty breathing, call 9-1-1.

Find free testing

Health plans are required to cover COVID-19 tests at no cost to the enrollee, even if you are asymptomatic. It is recommended that you first contact your healthcare provider for a COVID-19 test.

If you are unable to get a test from your healthcare provider, the County of San Diego has coordinated free diagnostic COVID-19 testing at many locations. These tests take about 5-10 minutes. Results generally come back in approximately 3 days. 

Appointments are required (except at Tubman-Chavez Center). To make an appointment online, find a site below using the testing location or testing schedule button. Or call 2-1-1 (toll free).

Appointments can be made up to one week in advance.


Who should get a COVID-19 test?

Every county resident is eligible for free diagnostic testing with no out of pocket costs. The highest priority for the County of San Diego remains to test those with COVID-19 infection symptoms or people in high-risk groups that include:

  • Healthcare workers, first responders, other social service employees, and people in essential jobs
  • People 65 and older
  • People with chronic medical conditions
  • People living in a residential or group setting, such as a long-term care facility or shelter
  • People exposed to infected individuals in places where COVID-19 risk is high

Types of testing

The County of San Diego coordinated sites currently only provide diagnostic testing, which reveals an active COVID-19 infection. Diagnostic tests generally involve collection of a swab sample from the nose. There is no blood drawn for these tests.

For your convenience, drive-up test appointments are provided as an option, in addition to walk-in test appointments. During a drive-up test, the medical test is performed while you are sitting in your vehicle.

More information for Healthcare Professionals