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Over-the-counter COVID-19 tests (also known as self-tests) allow individuals to conveniently learn their COVID-19 status in the comfort of their own home at a time of their choosing. Convenient testing with rapid results may allow individuals with COVID-19 to learn their status earlier in their infection course resulting in earlier isolation and limiting the spread of COVID-19. Testing is one layer in a multi-layered approach to preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Over-the-counter self-tests refer to tests that are purchased without a prescription and specimens are collected and completely processed by an individual anywhere outside of a healthcare or lab setting without the supervision of a trained professional. This is different than home collection kits in which specimens are collected at home, but then are sent to a laboratory for processing. Self-tests may use a nasal or a saliva specimen and can either be a molecular or an antigen-based test. Users should refer to the CDPH Updated Testing Guidance for more information about the different test types and their uses.
In workplaces, employers are subject to the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) or in some workplaces the Cal/OSHA Aerosol Transmissible Diseases Standard, and should consult those regulations for additional applicable requirements.
The following are recommended methods to verify unsupervised or unobserved self-test results. The practices listed below should strongly be considered in any context in which tests are being performed at the request of another entity, such as a school.
* If a self-test kit as described above is used at school/other setting and the test is administered by another person (except if parent/guardian) then the regulatory requirements of professional kits need to be followed: