General Testing Information
There are two kinds of tests for COVID-19: viral tests and antibody tests.
- A viral test tells you if you have a current infection. This test is now widely available.
- An antibody test tells you if you had a previous infection. Find more information about local antibody testing sites.
Broad COVID-19 Viral Testing Now Available
Get tested and help Sonoma County open safely. Viral tests are quick, easy, and free.
Community-wide testing is a critical step toward re-opening the County and allows us to identify and increase our understanding of COVID-19 community transmission. This includes collecting a broad sample of results from people with or without symptoms. We know that upwards of 40% of people who test positive experience no symptoms (asymptomatic), but are still spreading the disease.
Getting tested does not automatically require a person to stay home and enter into quarantine or isolation. Only those persons who are symptomatic OR who are identified as a close contact (anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before the person began to feel sick until the infected person was isolated) will be advised they must quarantine pending test results to prevent the spread of the virus and protect their family’s and the public’s health.
|Testing Sites||Open To||Locations||Details|
|OptumServe, CA Dept Public Health||General Public||Petaluma: Santa Rosa Jr. College
680 Sonoma Mountain Pkwy.
Santa Rosa: Sonoma County Fairgrounds
1350 Bennett Valley Rd.
1 (888) 634-1123 (select option 8 for Spanish)
By appointment only
|Your Primary Care/Health Care Provider||Determined by discussing with your regular health care provider||Various||Find the nearest community health center if you do not have a primary health care provider|
|Project Baseline COVID-19 Testing Program||General Public||Santa Rosa:
955 Stony Point Rd.
Other locations in CA may be found here
By appointment only; Must first register online with Project Baseline; Drive-through and self-swab
|Department of Health Services Pop-up Testing Events||Populations disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 (e.g., Latinx community)||Rotating at different sites throughout the county||Promoted directly to populations in target areas experiencing outbreaks to increase access to testing|
The rise in the number of people infected with COVID-19 has increased the need for testing throughout the U.S. Currently, the national shortage of testing supplies and lab processing capacity has created a slowdown in our local testing operations. As a result, you may experience delays in both scheduling a viral (diagnostic) test and in receiving notification of your test results. As we and other public health agencies work with our partners to increase capacity and speed in testing and sharing results with individuals tested, we ask people do the following:
- If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or suspect that you were exposed to someone with COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider right away for guidance on the quickest way to get a test.
- Provide a working cell phone number or email address to the testing site authorizing receipt of test results via text or email.
- Check the email SPAM folder for a notification before contacting the testing site to request results.
Those with a positive test result will receive a follow-up phone call from a Public Health nurse who will:
- Provide guidance on isolation to prevent the spread in one’s household and community; and
- Inquire about any needs and offer resource support to help the infected person and their family during their illness.
Case Investigation and Contact Tracing
The Department of Health Services (DHS) has expanded its system for monitoring cases and contacts by training more health investigators. This process helps break the chain of infection by monitoring people who have been exposed or infected as early as possible, getting them to care, and helping them to isolate from others. Here are the steps in contact tracing:
Step 1: DHS will Determine Contacts (anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before the person began to feel sick until the infected person was isolated)
Step 2: DHS will attempt to make contact with individuals with direct exposure
Step 3: DHS will then assess contacts
- Close contacts are asked to voluntarily comply with a daily assessment of their symptoms via phone call from a public health nurse for the 14 days of their quarantine.
- Asymptomatic contacts are instructed to get tested approximately 7 days after the exposure.
- All contacts with symptoms are tested as soon as possible
To learn more about contact tracing visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
- If you test positive for COVID-19 by a viral test, know what protective steps to take if you are sick or caring for someone.
- If you test negative for COVID-19 by a viral test, you probably were not infected at the time your sample was collected. However, that does not mean you will not get sick. The test result only means that you did not have COVID-19 at the time of testing.
If you test positive or negative for COVID-19, no matter the type of test, you still should take preventive measures to protect yourself and others.
Frequently Asked Questions
Contact tracing is an important way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. County Public Health staff help individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 to identify everyone with whom they had close contact during the time they may have been contagious. Public health staff then notify “contacts” about their potential exposure to someone with COVID-19 while not sharing the identity of the person who may have exposed them to the virus. During this phone call, contacts receive information about COVID-19 symptoms and a referral for free testing. All identified and confirmed contacts are instructed to self-quarantine to prevent further spread of disease. During the quarantine, the contact may receive a daily phone call from Public Health staff who asks if they are experiencing any symptoms.
Symptoms can take up to 14 days to appear after someone is exposed to a person with COVID-19. During this time, the exposed person (or contact) may spread the disease, even if they do not have any symptoms and feel well. For this reason, contacts are required to restrict their activities with other people (quarantine) for 14 days beyond their last date of exposure, in case they also become ill. This means they cannot leave their homes (or other locations), even to go to work, the grocery store, pharmacy, or for other daily tasks. This is a legally mandated requirement of the County Health Officer.*
Contacts also are asked to check and report their symptoms daily, including taking their temperature and reporting any cough, shortness of breath, tiredness, or other common symptoms of COVID-19. Sonoma County recommends COVID-19 testing for all contacts with symptoms as soon as possible. Contacts who do not have symptoms are tested at Day 12 after their last exposure to make sure they are not carrying the virus before they are released from quarantine. Additional information about quarantine may be found:
- Sonoma County Health Emergency Quarantine Order
- Home Quarantine Instructions
- Quarantine Isolation Flyer
*Quarantine and Isolation are health orders that must be followed to reduce the spread of the virus and protect the public’s health.
If you are identified as a contact, you should stay at home and quarantine. If you cannot quarantine safely at home for any reason, the County has a place where you can stay during your quarantine, free of charge. The County of Sonoma has partnered with Sonoma State University and Petaluma Health Center to operate an Alternate Care Site (ACS). This is a safe, comfortable place which is open to any person in Sonoma County who needs a place to stay to avoid infecting other household members. People who are not able to keep isolated from others in their home, especially those who live with vulnerable people (adults 65 and older, people with underlying health conditions, etc.), may wish to stay at the ACS. Lodging, meals, and Wi-Fi are provided free of charge.
Help while under quarantine:
Many people are concerned about work and daily activities if they have to be quarantined. The County can help find resources to meet your specific needs, including how to manage loss of income, pay rent, purchase or obtain food, medicines and other essentials while quarantined. Visit the Finance & Housing Assistance page on Socoemergency.org for more information.
You may receive a call from County Public Health staff or Volunteers if you have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Public Health staff who contact you will:
- Protect the identity of the person(s) who may have exposed you to the virus.
- Identify themselves as being part of the Sonoma County Public Health Department.
- Notify you that you have been exposed and the timeframe when the exposure likely occurred.
- Recommend that you get tested and provide information on how and where to obtain a test free-of-charge.
- Speak with you about how to quarantine and
- Discuss your needs, answer your questions and connect your with resources.
Public Health staff who contact you will not:
- Request your social security number or any banking information.
- Report you to your employer, other governmental agencies or immigration officials.
What does Public Health do with the information I share? How do I know it will be kept confidential and will not be shared with other agencies?
Your information is strictly confidential and will not be shared with other governmental agencies or immigration officials. You may be assured of this due to our strict compliance with and enforcement of:
- Health information privacy rules (such as HIPPA laws)
- Confidentiality agreements (signed by all County staff)
- Processes and systems for securing and storing confidential information
The CDC issued guidelines for discontinuing the isolation period based on the profile of the person in isolation as follows:
- People with COVID-19 symptoms but who did not get a test may discontinue their isolation when:
- At least 24 hours have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and,
- At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
- People without COVID-19 symptoms but who tested positive for the virus may discontinue their isolation when:
- At least 10 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test assuming they have not subsequently developed symptoms since their positive test. If they develop symptoms, then the symptom-based or test-based strategy should be used. Note, because symptoms cannot be used to gauge where these individuals are in the course of their illness, it is possible that the duration of viral shedding could be longer or shorter than 10 days after their first positive test.
See CDC website for additional details.
There are reports of some healthcare providers collecting copays or deductibles for performing a COVID-19 viral test. However:
“Since the passage of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) on March 18, most people should not face costs for the COVID-19 test or associated costs. Starting on March 18 and lasting for the duration of the public health emergency, all forms of public and private insurance, including self-funded plans, must now cover FDA-approved COVID-19 tests and costs associated with diagnostic testing with no cost-sharing, as long as the test is deemed medically appropriate by an attending health care provider. . . The CARES Act requires health plans to reimburse out-of-network COVID-19 test claims at up to the cash price that the provider has posted on a public web site. . . The CARES Act also does not prohibit out-of-network providers from billing patients directly for the COVID-19 test; if that happens, and if the up-front expense is unaffordable, it could deter some patients from getting a test. Otherwise, when providers charge cash up front, it falls to the patient to submit the bill to the health plan for reimbursement” (Source: Kaiser Family Foundation). Discuss this matter directly with your healthcare provider and/or insurance company.
May my employer require that I get a test to show that I no longer have COVIC-19 before returning to work?
The short answer is Yes. While not all employers will ask you to provide documentation of a negative test result, “employers may take steps to determine if employees entering the workplace have COVID-19 because an individual with the virus will pose a direct threat to the health of others” (Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).