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COVID Testing in Los Angeles: What to Expect

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While California’s vaccination effort has been going remarkably well, it’s still too soon to assume that any COVID precautions you’ve been taking are no longer a necessity. COVID testing in Los Angeles is still recommended as an essential tool in curbing the spread of the virus and keeping county residents safe, especially when you have some upcoming travel planned.

It’s crucial to keep up with relevant COVID testing information, including the different types of COVID tests out there, when to get a COVID test, and where you should go for your screening in Los Angeles County if you do need to travel.

Types of COVID Tests

There are two main types of COVID screenings, those that detect an active COVID infection and those that look for antibodies from a previous COVID infection.

To obtain a COVID antibody test in Los Angeles, the most straightforward route would be to contact your healthcare provider to see whether they offer the tests. They may also be able to recommend a lab that conducts antibody tests if they do not provide them on site.

Diagnostic tests use a nasal swab to determine whether someone is currently positive or negative for COVID. Reliant offers three different kinds of diagnostic tests at conveniently located Los Angeles COVID testing sites:

  • COVID-19 Antigen FIA: This is a rapid COVID test with results available within an hour. Antigen tests like this one are useful when there is a high probability of COVID infection, as their accuracy rates for positive cases are quite high. The speed of the test makes them an important tool in continued testing for COVID, particularly among those already showing symptoms.
  • COVID-19 Abbott PCR: This is another rapid COVID test with results available within an hour. While methods used to detect an active COVID infection are similar to the test described below, rapid tests of any kind are not always accepted for flight clearance. Travelers should check with their airline to determine which test they should take to be allowed to board that flight and see which airlines require a COVID vaccine.
  • COVID-19 RT-PCR: This PCR test for COVID offers results between 24-36 hours and is generally accepted as the test of choice for travelers seeking flight clearance. Samples taken for these tests are scanned for genetic material of COVID using a complex process called reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).

Covid-19 Test Results

When to Get a COVID Test

As the world begins to open up, whether you still need to worry about getting a COVID test may be at the top of your COVID testing FAQs, especially if you’ve been vaccinated. The United States, despite significant gains over the last few months, still has work to do to reach herd immunity and transmission rates remain high around the world.

So when should you get a COVID test?

COVID testing in Los Angeles and elsewhere is recommended if you have been exposed to someone with a known COVID infection, if it’s been suggested by your healthcare provider or if you are experiencing any indication of the virus including:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • Flu-like symptoms

There are several other scenarios where the CDC recommends a COVID test to avoid the risk of spreading infection. Those participating in activities where it’s difficult or impossible to socially distance, including travel, should also consider whether they need a COVID test.

Those recommendations apply even if you’ve been vaccinated.

Covid-19 nasal swab test in a car

COVID Testing & Travel

The CDC is now recommending that any travel, even domestically, is delayed until you are fully vaccinated. Those who are not vaccinated but find that they must travel are not barred from doing so, but there are ways to be safer.

Wear a mask when in the airport and on the airplane, a regulation enforced by all of the major airlines, and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. Masks may be taken off temporarily while you’re actively eating or drinking, but should be put back on as soon as you’re done. If you’re experiencing any symptoms or have been in contact with someone who has displayed symptoms, no matter your vaccination or testing status, delay all travel.

As destinations around the world start to open up for travel, those going abroad are still under existing regulations for testing upon their return to the United States. At this time, anyone traveling into the United States, whether they are a U.S. citizen or not, must show proof of a negative COVID test no more than three days before their return. That test should be available to show the airline before boarding. The only exception would be those who can prove a recent recovery from COVID-19 within the last three months. Proof should come from your healthcare provider or a public health official.

Many countries (and Hawaii) are also requiring negative test results on the way to your destination. Entry requirements vary by destination. Some countries are allowing vaccinated passengers without restrictions; some still require a negative COVID test upon arrival. If you need a COVID test for travel, Reliant’s conveniently located clinics throughout LA and at LAX offer the COVID-19 test required by many airlines for travel with a one-hour turnaround time.

However, if a negative COVID test is required for travel by your airline, be sure to check whether the airline you’re traveling with accepts rapid tests. If they don’t, you may need to plan ahead and book a screening for the COVID-19 RT-PCR test instead. That test has been approved for flight clearance, with results coming in 24-36 hours following your screening.

Vaccination passport

COVID Testing Los Angeles: Where to Go

COVID-19 testing is currently available throughout Los Angeles County, including at walk-up and drive-through locations. COVID tests available at Reliant detect the five different COVID variants of the virus circulating throughout the United States, as well, so you can rest assured that your COVID-19 screening at Reliant is a thorough one.

Reliant also offers a rapid test screening location at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), an important tool for travelers seeking a negative test before boarding their flights and to satisfy LAX COVID restrictions. Remember, although Reliant offers rapid COVID testing near LAX, check in with your airline to see which test is required to be able to fly.

We also have four other conveniently located clinics throughout LA. For a full list of all of our COVID-19 testing sites, see below.

COVID-19 Vaccine Los Angeles

As with the rest of the United States, vaccinations in Los Angeles are currently open to anyone 16 years of age and older. Vaccination rates vary based on race, gender, and age. Still, about 70 percent of Los Angeles County residents 65 and older have received at least one dose, which is positive news for a vulnerable population. About 37 percent of residents 16 and over have received at least one dose.

To make a vaccine appointment in the Los Angeles area, start with LA county’s department of public health. The site will link you to additional providers offering the COVID vaccine, including the ability to search by vaccine type. This is important for teens looking to get vaccinated. The Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine available to 16- and 17-year-olds; the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are only authorized for those 18 years of age and up.

Following your vaccination, whether you’re getting one dose or two, COVID safety precautions are still necessary. That means wearing a mask when you’re unable to keep a physical distance of more than 6 feet and maintaining a physical distance from those outside your household whenever possible.

No matter your vaccination status, if you present with COVID symptoms following a possible interaction with someone who has recently tested positive for COVID-19, you should seek out COVID testing in Los Angeles.

Covid-19 vaccination site in LA

Staying Safe & Healthy

The health experts at Reliant are available to answer any questions you may have about COVID-19 or obtaining a rapid COVID test. If you want to talk through your COVID-19 symptoms with a healthcare professional, book an appointment online. Our telemed staff will offer advice on your next steps without having to walk into a doctor’s office with symptoms.