Testing is recommended for anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, even if the person is fully vaccinated, according to the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department and the California Department of Public Health. 

Novel coronavirus testing guidance has changed during different phases of the pandemic, but the tests are generally more available, with faster results, than in earlier phases of the public health response. 

Possible symptoms of COVID-19 include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.

People should seek emergency medical attention for severe symptoms, which can include difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, and pale, gray or blue-colored skin, lips or nail beds, depending on skin tone, according to the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

Diagnostic novel coronavirus testing is suggested for unvaccinated essential workers in high-density and public-facing workplaces, such as public transit, restaurants and other food service, theaters or stadiums, amusement parks, transportation hubs, manufacturing or food processing plants, construction, and retail, according to updated CDPH testing guidance.

Diagnostic testing, typically done with a nasal swab, looks for an active infection of the virus. 

Testing is also recommended for unvaccinated people who had a recent close contact with someone who tested positive.

Diagnostic testing, to find out whether you’re infected, is supposed to be fully covered by health insurance.

Not all testing for travel, admission to events, or workplace-mandated testing is necessarily covered by health insurance, and you could get a bill.

The Cost of Coronavirus Testing

Not all novel coronavirus testing is free, but most testing for diagnostic purposes — finding out if a person is infected, not just getting a test for travel or admission to an event — should be covered completely by health insurance, or otherwise available at no cost to the patient. 

There are several state-run testing sites in Santa Barbara County that offer free testing to everyone, regardless of health insurance coverage status or immigration status. Click here for those locations and more information on testing. Scroll down for the current list of free testing locations. 

Many doctor’s offices and clinics also offer diagnostic testing. Click here for a map of testing providers in California.

“Copays and fees may be charged at privately owned clinics and healthcare centers, including urgent cares and primary care providers. Your insurance may only cover COVID-19 tests if they are determined to be medically necessary,” according to Public Health. 

The state of California is now requiring employees to provide proof of vaccination or be tested regularly, but the testing program has not been established yet. 

Health insurance companies do not necessarily have to cover the cost of workplace-mandated testing, according to The New York Times, and employees may have to pay the costs in some cases. 

Where to Get Tested for the Novel Coronavirus in Santa Barbara County 

Free novel coronavirus diagnostic testing is available at the following state-run and county-run sites: 

Santa Maria Fairpark, at 937 Thornburg St. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday. Call 888.634.1123, extension 8 to schedule an appointment. 

Lompoc Health Care Center, at 301 North R. St. Open 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday through Thursday. Appointments available for essential workers and the general public. 

American Medical Response Central Training Center in Buellton at 240 E. Highway 246, Suite 110. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday through Saturday. Call 888.634.1123, extension 8 to schedule an appointment. 

Santa Barbara Testing Trailer at 267 Camino del Remedio. Open 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday through Thursday. Appointments available for essential workers and the general public. 

Goleta Valley Community Center at 5679 Hollister Ave. Open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday through Tuesday. Call 888.634.1123, extension 8 to schedule an appointment. 

Click here for more information about these testing sites, and to book appointments online. 

Many doctor’s offices and clinics also offer diagnostic testing. Click here for a map of testing providers in California.

Are You Sick? Did You Test Positive? Here’s Public Health Guidance for Isolating at Home 

The Public Health Department has information on its website on isolating at home if you are sick, if you have tested positive, or you are a close contact of someone who recently tested positive.

That link is here: https://publichealthsbc.org/dont-feel-well/ 

Public Health tells people to stay home, except to get medical care, if you are sick and/or tested positive.

“Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis. Ask friends or family members to do your shopping or use a grocery delivery service.” 

For people who test positive, Public Health asks them to participate in the public health contact tracing interview. 

“A public health team member will contact you if you test positive for COVID-19, usually by phone. This person will help you understand what to do next and what support is available,” according to the county. “In addition, you will be asked for the names and contact information of people you have had close contact with recently. This information is asked so that they can notify people who may have been exposed.

“Your name will not be shared with your close contacts.” 

Here is the fact sheet on home isolation and quarantine.

Click here or scroll down for home care instructions for tested/not tested people who are ill. 

For more information on finding a COVID-19 vaccine provider, vaccinations for school and work, and how to get a digital record of your vaccination, read: How to Find a COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Near You in Santa Barbara County. 

Public Health Department’s Home Care Instructions for Ill People

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at gmagnoli@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.