Last updated 9/14/2022
Get tested as soon as possible if you have COVID-19 symptoms. Home tests are generally good at detecting active infections when someone has COVID-19 symptoms, but they do not as reliably detect infection in people that don’t have symptoms. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, but test negative using a home test, take steps to prevent spread, and test again using a home test or schedule a PCR test.
Where Can I Get a Home Test?
Home tests can be bought at a pharmacy or online. There are several brands currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use. You should not use a home test that is not approved by the FDA.
People with private, employer-sponsored and student health commercial health insurance can request reimbursement for over-the-counter COVID-19 diagnostic tests purchased on or after January 15, 2022. The cost of home testing for COVID-19 is an eligible medical expense that can be paid or reimbursed under health flexible spending arrangements (health FSAs), health savings accounts (HSAs), health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), or Archer medical savings accounts (Archer MSAs).
Each Medi-Cal beneficiary can now go to a Medi-Cal Rx pharmacy, show their Medi-Cal Benefits ID Card and have up to 8 over-the-counter COVID-19 diagnostic tests covered each month. If you have Medi-Cal and purchased over-the-counter COVID-19 diagnostic tests between March 11, 2021, and January 31, 2022, call the Department of Healthcare Services at (916) 403-2007 for more information about getting reimbursed.
Contra Costa Regional Medical Center & Health Centers patients: free home tests are available upon request when checking in for appointments at registration.
When Can I Use a Home Test?
Confirm an Active COVID-19 Infection: Home tests are generally good at detecting active infections when someone has COVID-19 symptoms but they do not as reliably detect infection in people that don’t have symptoms. If you test positive, click for next steps and care information. If you have COVID-19 symptoms but test negative using a home test, take steps to prevent spread and test again using a home test or schedule a PCR test.
End Isolation and Quarantine: Home tests can be used to end isolation and quarantine. Visit our For COVID-19 Patients & Contacts page for more information.
Schools, Youth Sports & Activities: Students can use home tests to end isolation and quarantine. Visit our For COVID-19 Patients & Contacts page for more information. Home tests can also be used to meet the testing requirement for youth sports.
When Can I Not Use a Home Test?
Some settings, such as pre-entry for a business, event, gathering or travel, may require documentation of a negative COVID-19 test. Home tests do not meet these testing requirements and should not be used for this purpose.
Some people may need documentation of a previous positive COVID-19 test to show proof that they do not need to re-test for COVID-19 for 90 days. Home tests do not meet this testing requirement and should not be used for this purpose.
How Do I Use a Home Test?
How to Use a Home Test
How to Interpret Home Test Results
What Do I Do If I Test Positive Using a Home Test?
If you get a positive home test result, you should:
Follow isolation instructions, even if you are fully vaccinated.
Tell your close contacts (anyone who has been within 6 feet of you for 15 minutes or longer over a 24-hour period since you started feeling sick) that they were exposed.
Tell your workplaces, schools, and any other settings you’ve gone to in the past few days.
Students can report home-test results here: https://my.primary.health/l/caschools
If your symptoms worsen, tell your healthcare provider, or if you have emergency warning signs, seek emergency care immediately. If you do not have a healthcare provider, call the Contra Costa Health Advice Nurse at 1-877-661-6230, option 1.
Schools and workplaces will use this information for contact tracing to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Some places may ask you to confirm your home test result by getting tested again at a local testing site or clinic, particularly if you do not have symptoms or were not a close contact to someone with COVID-19. If asked to get tested again, get tested within three days and continue to isolate.
People will often test positive on home tests for about six to 10 days, and even longer on a PCR test. It’s not unusual for people to test positive up to 14 days, especially for those who are unvaccinated. Experts say as long as you continue to test positive on a home test, you should still consider yourself potentially contagious and should take steps to not spread COVID-19 to others.
If you test positive for COVID-19, treatment may be available. Contact your healthcare provider or call the Contra Costa County Health Advice Nurse at 877-661-6230 right away to talk about treatment, or visit a test-to-treat location. Don’t delay, even if your symptoms are mild right now – treatment must be started within the first few days to be effective. Click here to learn more.