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COVID-19 Testing: Drive-Up Appointments With Results in 48 Hours

We offer appointments for drive-up testing for COVID-19 to our patients and the public — with results typically available within 48 hours. This includes testing for people who don't have symptoms but need a test for travel, school or other reasons. If you are having symptoms or were exposed to the novel coronavirus, we encourage you to call your primary care provider (or 800-926-8273 if you are a UC San Diego Health primary care patient).

Where to go for testing and the cost depend on:

  • Your risk factors for the disease — whether you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or were exposed to someone with the virus
  • Whether you receive your primary care with UC San Diego Health or elsewhere

Do I need an appointment?

Yes. Testing is by appointment only.

How do I make an appointment for COVID-19 testing?

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I get my primary care at UC San Diego Health AND I’m experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or was exposed.

If you are a UC San Diego Health patient and are experiencing symptoms or think you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, we recommend talking to your primary care physician or calling us at 800-926-8273. The advantage of calling first is that we can evaluate your risk factors and, if a COVID-19 test is warranted, help ensure that the test is covered by insurance.

Depending on your answers, we may recommend:

Please see questions below for more information about the testing process, results and follow-up care.

I get my primary care at UC San Diego Health AND I need a test for school or other personal reasons.

If you are a UC San Diego Health patient who is not symptomatic or exposed, you can schedule a test online at one of our community drive-up locations. Testing at these locations costs $65, payable by credit card at the test site. Results are typically available within 48 hours.

Please see questions below for more information about the testing process, results delivery and follow-up care.

I am not a UC San Diego Health patient AND I’m experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or was exposed.

We recommend contacting your primary care provider to evaluate your symptoms. If you need an in-person evaluation and going to your primary care provider is not an option, you can visit an Urgent Care or Express Care location for an in-person evaluation, where you pay any applicable charges for the visit and any COVID-19 testing (if warranted) is billed as part of the visit.

Or if you prefer, you can schedule a COVID-19 test online at one of our community drive-up locations. The cost at these locations is $65, payable by credit card at the test site. Results are typically available within 48 hours.

Please see questions below for more information about the testing process, results delivery and follow-up care.

I am not a UC San Diego Health patient AND I need a test for school or other personal reasons.

You can schedule a test online at one of our community drive-up locations. The cost is $65, payable by credit card at the test site. Results are typically available within 48 hours.

Please see questions below for more information about the testing process, results delivery and follow-up care.

How much does a COVID-19 test cost?

The COVID-19 test may be covered by insurance, depending on your health plan and whether the test is considered medically necessary. UC San Diego Health patients can call us at 800-926-8273 to discuss your symptoms and help ensure that your test is covered. We may also recommend a video visit or in-person evaluation, where you pay any applicable co-pay and the testing is part of the visit.

The cost is $65, payable by credit card only, when you schedule a testing appointment online at a community testing location, which is intended for those who do not have symptoms or were not exposed.

Can test results be used for travel? Are they acceptable for the Hawaii entry requirements?

We are no longer offering testing through the Safe Travels Hawaii program, although we will honor existing appointments if you have already scheduled your testing. We are not a trusted partner for Bora Bora, Tahiti or any other destination.

We encourage you to closely check the testing requirements of your destination before traveling. It is the traveler's responsibility to schedule any testing at the appropriate time and by an approved testing provider.

How and when will I get my test results?

Your test results will typically be available within 48 hours, and we’ll email you a link to view them in your MyUCSDChart account on a computer or a mobile app. If you don’t have an account, you will be prompted to create a MyUCSDChart account when you schedule a test. For children ages 11 and under, you will receive instructions for the MyChart account at the testing location.

If you are experiencing symptoms or have been exposed, isolate yourself at home and avoid contact with other people while waiting for your results. If your test is positive, a health care professional will also call you to follow up with treatment options. Depending on your symptoms and your health plan, this could include a referral to our COVID-19 Telemedicine Clinic.

Will my test results really be ready within 48 hours?

Yes, your COVID-19 test results are generally available within 48 hours. In rare instances, we may return a result later because of an unanticipated lab delay. However, if your test is for travel purposes, we recommend scheduling your test 72 hours before travel times.

Do you offer testing for kids?

Yes. There are no age restrictions for testing. However, a parent or legal guardian must schedule the test for all minors, and those who are ages 15 and under must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, who may need to help with sample collection using a nasal swab.

What is the testing process like?

When your test is scheduled, you will get information on the testing location and address. You'll see signs and will pull your car into a large tent. A nurse or other care provider will meet you at your vehicle and perform a nasal swab PCR test. The test involves collecting a specimen from the "anterior nares" region (the front of your nose, just inside your nostril). It tests for an active infection of SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

How can I print my test results?

Please use the web version of MyUCSDChart rather than the MyUCSDHealth app.

  • Go to "Health" in the top menu.
  • Then select "Test Results" under "What's in my record?"
  • The results will be named "COVID-19 Coronavirus Detection Assay at UCSD Labs."
  • Click the printer icon at the upper right for a printer-friendly page.

Is UC San Diego Health offering antibody testing in San Diego County?

We have the ability to perform antibody testing for infection. We currently conduct those tests our front-line health care workers as well as UC San Diego Health patients as recommended by their providers. If you think you need antibody testing, please discuss it with your health care provider.

What is the difference between PCR and antibody testing?

A PCR test is a diagnostic test. It tests for an active infection of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. An antibody test is designed to tell if you’ve ever had COVID-19. Antibody tests are useful for understanding how many people in our community have been exposed to the virus already. Here's more on how testing is done:

  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing uses a nasal or oral swab to detect the virus itself and indicates an active infection or a very recent infection. If you are having symptoms of active infection, such as cough and fever, the PCR test can be used to detect the virus and diagnose COVID-19.
  • Antibody testing (or serology testing) is a blood test that looks for a person's immune response to the virus. Antibodies are proteins made by the body to fight off viruses and other pathogens that cause infections. If antibodies are found after testing, this suggests you have been infected with SARS-CoV-2, even if you were asymptomatic and didn’t have symptoms. The antibody test gives information about prior COVID-19 exposures, and is more useful after symptoms have resolved.