Originally released: July 14, 2020
Last updated: September 22, 2020
This guidance is an update to the interim COVID-19 testing guidance issued by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on May 1, 2020. This updated guidance is intended to support public health officials, health care providers, and laboratories in determining who should be tested given the current context of the COVID-19 pandemic in California.
COVID-19 testing in California has rapidly expanded over the past three months and we have learned much about COVID-19 and which populations and communities it impacts disproportionately.
CDPH recommends first prioritizing testing of hospitalized individuals with
signs or symptoms of COVID-19 infection followed by testing of other
symptomatic individuals and higher risk asymptomatic individuals and then other
asymptomatic individuals when certain conditions exist. This guidance
should be used for prioritization of patient populations as well as for the
purposes of guiding laboratories in managing specimen processing.
As modifications are made to public health directives and more sectors of the economy open with adaptations, it is important that employers do not use testing to impermissibly discriminate against employees who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 (such as by preventing them from resuming work after they can do so in a manner consistent with public health and safety). This does not mean an employer must allow an employee who currently has COVID-19 to return to work before the employee's infection is resolved. Further, because PCR tests can remain positive long after an individual is no longer infectious, proof of a negative test should not be required prior to returning to the workplace after documented COVID infection. Rather, symptom- or protocol-based criteria should be used in determining when an employee is safe to return to the workplace.
Assesses the presence of the virus at a given point in time. A negative means only that an individual was negative at the time the test.
Note: No test is perfect. There is a false negative rate and false positive rate that varies depending on the test and the collection modalityNon- Diagnostic Tests
Reminder - These are statewide guidelines. Local jurisdictions may modify these guidelines to account for local conditions or patterns of transmission.