COVID tests are good, but not perfect. Antigen tests are excellent in detecting when someone is contagious with COVID-19, but can miss an early infection. PCR/NAA tests are more sensitive, but can still miss a very early infection. This is concerning if you have symptoms (like fever, cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing, fatigue, loss of taste/smell), are not fully vaccinated, or have had a possible exposure to COVID. If you have any of these, and your test was negative, you should have a repeat test done in the next several days. If you are vaccinated and infected, you may have symptoms several days before a test turns positive (and you become contagious).
You are infected with COVID-19. Immediately isolate yourself (stay away from others) for 5-10 days after a positive test or the start of symptoms; see the CDC/CDPH websites for details and the latest guidelines. You should obtain a pulse oximeter device (from a drugstore or online) to monitor your oxygen levels at home. Call your doctor or come to the Emergency Department if you have difficulty breathing, confusion, rapid pulse, low oxygen levels (less than 93%), or feel you are getting worse. Tell your regular doctor or clinic about your positive result, as new treatments for early COVID-19 may be available. Your doctor is the best person to arrange these treatments, including monoclonal antibodies (which require an IV infusion, often done at a hospital), or new oral medications. Many of these treatments need to be started immediately, and availability can vary – so talk to your doctor right away. If you don’t have a regular doctor, check with your insurance company – telehealth doctors may be available – or call 211 or the help lines below.
All close contacts should be tested, and any unvaccinated close contacts should quarantine for 14 days after COVID exposure. Quarantine rules can vary based on location, employment, and vaccination status. If you have school children in your home, contact their school immediately to help determine whether they can still go to school, or if they need to quarantine. The Monterey and Santa Cruz County 211 help lines can help answer questions, and can also help with housing, funds, food, or other resources to help you isolate from others. You can also call (831) 769-8700 in Monterey County, or (831) 455-4242 in Santa Cruz County.
Isolation PDF from CDPH: click here
Health care worker isolation from CDC: click here and here
Financial help: click here
All COVID-19 tests look for the presence of the COVID-19 virus in your nose. Antigen tests look for the outside protein coat of the virus, while PCR/NAA tests look for the genetic material inside the virus itself.
Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Test:
The Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card is a lateral flow immunoassay for the qualitative detection of nucleocapsid (N) protein antigen from SARS-CoV-2 in anterior nasal swabs.
Accula SARS-CoV-2 COVID-19 RT-PCR Test:
The ThermoFisher Scientific/Mesa Biotech Accula SARS-CoV-2 Test is a molecular in vitro polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test for the qualitative, visual detection of nucleic acid from SARS-CoV-2 in anterior nasal or nasopharyngeal swab specimens.
Cue Health COVID-19 NAA Test:
The Cue Health COVID-19 Test is an isothermal nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) intended for the qualitative detection of nucleic acid from the SARS-CoV-2 virus in direct anterior nasal swabs or in previously collected anterior nasal swab specimens in viral transport media.
ChemBio SCoV-2 Antigen Detect Rapid Test:
The ChemBio SCoV-2 Ag Detect Rapid Test is a lateral flow immunoassay intended for the qualitative detection of SARS-CoV-2 nucleoprotein antigen in direct anterior nasal swab specimens from individuals who are suspected of COVID-19 by their healthcare provider.
All tests are authorized by the FDA under an Emergency Use Authorization for use in patient care settings operating under a CLIA Certifcate of Waiver, and only for the detection of antigen/nucleic acid from SARS-CoV-2, not for any other pathogens. These products are only authorized for the duration of the declaration that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of emergency use of in vitro diagnostics for detection and/or diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 under Section 564(b)(1) of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. § 360bbb-3(b)(1), unless the authorization is terminated or revoked sooner.