COVID-19 testing on the peninsula: What you need to know
Does Community Hospital do COVID tests?
Community Hospital tests people who have COVID-19 symptoms*, those who are scheduled for certain procedures, and everyone having surgery. We do not test for COVID-19 for walk-in community members with no symptoms.
*Community Hospital is not a testing-only site and does not provide free COVID-19 tests. COVID-19 tests are only performed after a medical evaluation by a doctor and when medically appropriate. For those who want a free COVID-19 test only, there are locations on the Monterey Peninsula who provide this service for those with and without symptoms. Please see information below.
Why doesn’t Community Hospital offer tests for anyone who would like one?
There have been shortages of test supplies since the pandemic began. This means we have to prioritize their use, focusing on people who have symptoms or who need surgery or other procedures, to reduce the chances of transmission to other patients and our staff.
Where can I get a test?
The California Testing Task Force has a tool to find testing sites near you.
Monterey County also offers testing information.
Local test sites include those listed below. Please check with specific websites before going.
Does it matter what type of test I get?
Yes — the right test for each person’s situation really does matter. Here’s a summary of four types of tests and their appropriate uses.
- PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests are highly reliable for people with or without symptoms. They indicate an active infection or recent past infection. If you do not have symptoms and want to be tested for travel, work, or some other reason, you should get a PCR test. (There are now also nucleic acid amplification tests, which are similar to PCR tests.) PCR tests are available for free at the Seaside High and Monterey Peninsula College sites, and pop-up sites overseen by Monterey County. They are also available for a fee at Doctors on Duty, and through commercial labs such as Quest or ArcPoint.
- Antigen or rapid antigen tests should be used only if the patient has symptoms. The results are not reliable for people without symptoms, so antigen tests should not be performed on people without symptoms or for reasons such as travel or returning to work.
- Antibody tests indicate whether someone may have had an infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. It does not diagnose a current infection.
How quickly will I get results?
Timing on results varies; ask the provider you are using or considering using. Currently, tests processed by Community Hospital can take 4-24 hours for results to be available. If you are a Montage Health patient, signing up for MyChart, Montage Health’s online medical record, may help you receive test results faster, especially if your result is negative.
If I tested positive, should I have a second test later to show that I no longer have COVID-19?
No. According to the CDC and Monterey County Health Department, you must quarantine for 10 days after the positive test result. A second test is not helpful as those who have tested positive can still test positive for COVID-19 for months after the positive result. After the 10 days, it is thought that you are no longer contagious to others if no symptoms are present.
What if I need a test to return to work or school or to travel?
Testing and repeat testing is not recommended to “clear” people to return to work after having COVID-19 or a COVID-like illness. Current recommendations are for people to be cleared to return to work based on CDC guidelines and improvement of symptoms without the need for a repeat test. Community Hospital receives many calls and visits from people who have been told they need to get a second test to return to work. Again, it’s not recommended and Community Hospital does not test people who do not have symptoms unless they are inpatients or having certain procedures.
COVID-19 in our community resources
Learn more on our coronavirus informational webpage and also view COVID-related testing and inpatient data (including the number tested, deaths, and those hospitalized).