Rapid Covid Test in San Diego?
November 30, 2021 2:53 PM   Subscribe

We are in San Diego. As per new requirements, we have to get a negative Covid Test before boarding our plane back to Portugal later this week. I don't know how this works in the US. Where and how is the best place to get a rapid test?

Per Portugal's new guidelines:
Requirement: RT-PCR Test (or similar NAAT test) - 72h before boarding, or Rapid Antigen Test - 48h before boarding.
I suppose a rapid antigen test is the best option for us. Googling brings up lots of private medical clinics charging $200 for this service. Is there a better option? Thanks!
posted by vacapinta to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You can easily get free PCR tests all over San Diego, usually with minimal/no registration requirement. However, those sites won't guarantee timely processing.

What I've seen a number of people do is a free test 72 hours before the flight, and then if they don't have a result 24 hours before the flight, do a rapid antigen test.
posted by saeculorum at 3:05 PM on November 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

For the moment PCR tests are still free and you can get one at most pharmacies a.k.a "drugstores", especially the big chain ones like CVS, RiteAid, and Walgreen's. You all probably have to schedule an appointment, which is easiest to do online.

HHS.gov (Health & Human Services) website for basic overview & links for testing sites, broken down by state.
posted by soundguy99 at 3:06 PM on November 30, 2021

Best answer: As a last resort, Carbon Health has testing at San Diego airport in Terminal 2, but you may want to call them to see how fast their results are (they give themselves a bit of a broad window, from "within 3hrs" to "by 2pm the next day").
posted by aramaic at 3:18 PM on November 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

(Also, I know Portugal seems to like "wet ink" signatures on a lot of official documents, so you may want to double-check that angle -- Carbon Health for example just gives you a PDF that you download once you're notified of your result.)
posted by aramaic at 3:24 PM on November 30, 2021

In US the government testing is usually the fastest and you just say you don't have insurance and it'll be free: https://211sandiego.org/covid19/covid-19-testing/
posted by sandmanwv at 5:34 PM on November 30, 2021

A friend here in San Diego just used sick.org - they came to her apartment to administer the test, results were provided to her in 24 hours.
posted by artlung at 8:20 PM on November 30, 2021

Flew to Portugal 3 weeks ago from SF. Got a Color NAAT test for free. They say it can take up to 3 days but if you ask they'll tell you what the turnaround is. It took 24 hours first week of November, not sure what it is now.

posted by just.good.enough at 8:34 PM on November 30, 2021

Lots of good ideas in this thread, I'll just add that you need to double-check what type of test is required. "Rapid test" is not specific enough.

IF time is short and it comes down to vacation or no vacation--in other words, if you're in a bind--you can last-minute plunk down 75-150 dollars at an Occupational Health clinic. (The search term "Occupational Health" is what I use in Google Maps.) These places are not quite urgent care, they specialize in employment health checks, drug tests, etc. They tend to keep bankers' hours, but when you gotta get it done NOW without an appointment and you need results on a stamped piece of paper within the next 30 minutes, you can call around for the specific test type you need and get it done with no fuss. (Goddam things should be free, and I've seen them in IAH for free, but you don't want to leave it that late.)
posted by ssr_of_V at 3:22 AM on December 1, 2021

Response by poster: I'll add some info here for other people.
As I noted above in the [more inside], the only guidance from our airline was "RT-PCR Test (or similar NAAT test) - 72h before boarding, or Rapid Antigen Test - 48h before boarding"
so we decided to take a rapid NAAT test offered by Carbon Health at the SD Airport.

Sick.org and Color look intriguing but we also know that an actual Healthcare org may look more official. Also its nice that they are in the airport itself instead of some drive-thru parking lot somewhere.

The Rapid NAAT by the way, is within 3 hours. The RT-PCR is by 2pm the next day. It was all very easy and the staff were very helpful. We actually got our results within 30 minutes (negative) and got a PDF out of it with all the info the airlines required. There may be a cheaper way to do this (our cost was $165 pp!) but its good there was a convenient, easy alternative.

Also want to point out that this was not a holiday. We came to see my mother, after having not seen her for 2 years, and how she is doing after the loss of my father. This flight is our return trip home.

Thanks all for your help.
posted by vacapinta at 5:26 PM on December 3, 2021 [2 favorites]

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