For more information about COVID-19 at-home tests and how to get tests for free, view the frequently asked questions (FAQs) below.
FAQs about COVID-19 at-home tests
COVID-19 at-home tests (also referred to as self-tests or over-the-counter (OTC) tests) are one of many risk-reduction measures, along with vaccination, masking, and physical distancing, that protect you and others by reducing the chances of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. At home tests can be taken at home or anywhere, are easy to use, and produce rapid results.
Yes. Tests will have instructions on how to use them.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you take an at-home test:
- If you begin having COVID-19 symptoms like fever, sore throat, runny nose, or loss of taste or smell, or
- At least five days after you come into close contact with someone with COVID-19, or
- When you’re going to gather with a group of people, especially those who are at risk of severe disease or may not be up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines.
For more on when to use at-home tests, see the latest CDC self-testing guidance here.
Yes. The tests work whether or not you are up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccines.
Yes. The tests work whether or not you have COVID-19 symptoms.
The test will give results within 30 minutes.
No. You will receive your results within 30 minutes. The test does not require lab drop-off.
A positive self-test result means that the test detected the virus, and you are very likely to have an infection and should stay home or isolate, wear a mask if you could have contact with others, and avoid indoor gatherings to reduce the risk of spreading disease to someone else. You should also notify your primary care provider and any close contacts of your positive test result. For the most up-to-date quarantine information, click here.
A negative self-test result means that the test did not detect the virus and you may not have an infection, but it does not rule out infection. Repeating the test within a few days, with at least 24 hours between tests, will increase the confidence that you are not infected. If you think your negative test result may be incorrect, contact your primary care provider to determine whether or not additional testing is necessary.
Sometimes invalid results or an error can show on the test device. Invalid results or an error can occur for many reasons. Your specimen may not have been collected correctly, or the test may have malfunctioned.
Invalid test results are rare but can occur. If the self-test shows an invalid result or a test error, the test did not work properly. If this happens, refer to the instructions for use in the package insert and contact the manufacturer for help.
FAQs about COVID-19 at-home tests from the pharmacy at no cost
Yes. As of Feb. 1, 2022, Medi-Cal began covering at-home test kits obtained at pharmacies enrolled as Medi-Cal providers.
Medi-Cal only covers test kits obtained from pharmacies enrolled as Medi-Cal providers. To find an eligible pharmacy, click here.
Yes. At-home tests from a pharmacy and covered by Medi-Cal Rx require a prescription. You can get a prescription from the pharmacist when you request your test.
The pharmacist can write you a prescription for an at home test when you go to get them.
Yes. Each Medi-Cal member is allowed up to eight test kits (or four test kits that include two separate tests each) per month at no charge.
Yes. Members who purchased an at home test kit between March 11, 2021, and January 31, 2022, can get reimbursed for the retail cost with a receipt. For more information, click here.
FAQs about free COVID-19 at-home tests by mail
Tests are available for every household in the U.S.
Tests can be ordered online here. All you need is your name and home address. No ID, credit card, or health insurance information is required. You may also share your email address to get updates on your order. Tests will typically ship within 7-12 days after ordering.
Each order includes four rapid antigen tests and instructions.
No. Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order eight free at-home COVID-19 tests. The tests are completely free.
No. You should order your tests now, so you have them when you need them.
To promote access to everyone, the initial program only allowed for four free individual tests per residential household. As of March 7, 2022, each household is allowed to order an additional four free tests (eight tests in total).
No. You can order them at any time.
You do not have to wait to receive your first order of test kits to order your second set. You can order your household’s additional four tests right after ordering the first four. You will complete two separate orders and get two separate packages.
No. To promote access to everyone, the program only allows eight free individual tests per residential household.
You can also get a free COVID-19 test at locations across Ventura County, including pharmacies, pop-up clinics and testing sites. For more information, click here.
Tests will be delivered in the mail through the U.S. Postal Service. All orders within the continental U.S. will be sent through First Class Package Service. Tests will typically ship within 7-12 days of ordering.
Yes. There is an option for you to provide an email address to receive email notifications with shipping updates. Once your order is shipped, you will receive an email with an estimated delivery date and a tracking number. You can track the status of your delivery here.
No. This program is designed to send free tests to your home through the mail.
To get help with a delivery issue, contact USPS here.
No. All tests distributed as part of this program are FDA-authorized at-home rapid antigen tests.