Testing in San Diego County

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests are used to diagnose the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Based on what we know now, individuals may be contagious before ever having symptoms and some people will never have symptoms at all even though they are infected. Since not everyone who gets infected will have symptoms, continuing to test is an essential tool in our toolbox in ending the COVID-19 pandemic.

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 No-Cost Testing

If you are unable to get a COVID-19 test from your healthcare provider, testing is available at no cost from the County of San Diego (County). These tests take about 5-10 minutes. Results generally come back in approximately 1-2 days.

For children and youth, it is first recommended that you contact your healthcare provider or pediatrician.

  • Most children, youth, and their caregivers can receive testing through the COVID-19 Collaborative for Children in partnership with Rady Children's Hospital. Contact your Rady pediatrician or e-mail covidcollaborative@rchsd.org for more information. 
  • Children, youth and caregivers covered by Kaiser Permanente should consult with their pediatrician or physician provider directly, or through www.kp.org.

If you are unable to get a test for your child or youth from your healthcare provider, children 6 months and older are able to be tested at any County-coordinated test site.

Most testing locations do not require an appointment. Please see the Testing Location and/or Testing Schedule links below for location-specific details and to find a location near you or call 2-1-1 (toll free). Other testing options by non-County providers are also available below. 

Test Results

Results from County-coordinated testing sites generally come back in approximately 1-2 days. If your test result is negative, you will be notified by e-mail. If your test result is positive, you will be notified by phone and e-mail. When checking e-mail, be sure to also check your junk mail folder.

If you have not received an e-mail or call with your results after four calendar days from the day you were tested, you may submit a test result inquiry online, or call 2-1-1 if you need assistance completing the online form.

While waiting for your test results, continue to monitor your health and take steps to protect yourself and others. Next steps will depend on your situation.

  • If you are experiencing symptoms, stay home and keep your distance from others, unless you are fully vaccinated. Follow Home Isolation Instructions and practice physical distancing as you recover, including distancing from other people in your home.
  • If you do NOT have symptoms, AND were NOT vaccinated, but were identified by a medical professional or a County Case Investigator as a close contact of someone who has tested positive, you should quarantine at home. A County Contact Tracer may contact you. Follow Home Quarantine Guidance in case you have been infected. If you are an essential worker, talk to your employer to see if you may continue working with extra precautions.
  • If you do NOT have symptoms AND have been vaccinated, you may resume your normal activities. Minimize your interactions with others until you get your results. Continue to practice physical distancing, wear a face covering outside the house, and practice proper hygiene, including washing your hands.

Additional Resources