The rate of positive Covid-19 tests has accelerated with more people spending time indoors due to the colder weather and shorter days of fall. Despite the new public health restrictions that took effect in Los Angeles County on November 20th, you may have come into contact with someone who has Covid-19. Whatever the reason, you may be looking for a way to get tested. What are the differences between in-home and community testing centers, and is one better than the other?
Community testing centers – pros and cons
There are hundreds of community testing centers in Los Angeles, which are available in places such as hospitals, clinics, urgent care centers, and drive-in centers. You can find the closest testing center to you – as well as the types of tests offered – at the Los Angeles County testing center finder.
- Your test is administered by a licensed medical professional
- Community tests in Los Angeles County are free
- There are many testing centers available throughout the county
- All tests are by appointment only, so you can ensure that you can get a spot
- The recent surge in cases mean hours-long waits at testing centers
- The high demand for tests can mean delays in your results
- You could expose yourself to Covid-19 if someone waiting to be tested near you has the virus
- You could potentially expose others to the virus if you’re sick
In-home testing – pros and cons
You have two testing options when it comes to in-home testing. The first is a DIY kit. This kit includes the RT-PCR test, which you must self-administer and send back to a designated lab for processing. Your results typically return within 3 business days. The rapid antigen and antibody tests are NOT available as DIY kits at this time.
Your second option is to get an in-home test with a medical service. A licensed nurse comes to your home to administer the test and process it – either onsite for the rapid test, or offsite for the RT-PCR and antibody. They can also provide further guidance if you do test positive.
Here are the pros and cons of in-home testing with a medical service.
- You can get the RT-PCR, rapid antigen, or antibody test with a licensed clinician
- Your test is administered by a clinician so you can rest assured that it is performed correctly
- You can avoid exposure to Covid-19 or the flu at clinics and community testing centers
- You can prevent accidentally spreading the virus if you are sick by staying at home
- In-home testing saves you time since you don’t have to wait in a long line at a testing center
- If your child needs to get tested, an in-home test provides them a comfortable and stress-free environment
- Your test is private and discreet
- An in-home test may not be covered by insurance, depending on your health care plan
What tests are available?
There are three types of tests for Covid-19. Two of them – the RT-PCR and rapid antigen test – are designed to detect an active infection. What’s the difference between them?
- The RT-PCR test (also referred to as a ‘diagnostic’, ‘molecular’, or ‘PCR’ test) is the standard type of test and is considered the most accurate.
- A sample of fluids is collected from your sinus cavity during your appointment, then sent to a lab to detect genetic material belonging to the SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) virus.
- This test may take 3 business days for processing.
- The rapid antigen test (also called a ‘rapid’ or ‘antigen’ test) is a newer type of test and gives results quickly; however, it has a higher rate of returning false positives and false negatives.
- A sample of fluids is collected from either your sinus cavity or your throat during your appointment, which is processed onsite for proteins located on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) virus.
- Your results are typically available within 15 minutes.
The third type of test for Covid-19 is called the antibody test. Unlike the RT-PCR and rapid antigen tests, this diagnostic is designed to identify if you were previously infected with Covid-19 (whether or not you had symptoms).
- This test can be administered as either a finger stick or a blood draw and must be sent to a lab to be processed.
- Your results are typically available within 3 business days.
You’ll want to check with your testing site about the types of tests they offer prior to getting in line. You can also get any type of in-home Covid-19 test by Concierge MD LA with your appointment taking place in the comfort of your home.
What if you test positive?
If you test positive, you’ll need to inform everyone that you’ve been in contact with over the last couple of weeks. This helps those you’ve been in contact with know if they need to get tested to protect their loved ones, ultimately helping to slow the spread of the virus.
People you may need to contact include…
- Your friends and family
- Your employer
- Your coworkers
- Places you’ve been (eg. grocery store, pharmacy, doctor’s office, etc,.)
If you do receive a positive test result, you’ll want to self-quarantine, rest, and take care of yourself like you would with any other illness. If you absolutely have to go out, make sure to wear a face mask and use hand sanitizer frequently to help prevent the virus from spreading.