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2.33(3 reviews)
This clinic has shorter than average waiting periods

Short Wait Time

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their friendly staff

Friendly Staff

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their clean offices

Sparkling Clean

2015 Birch Rd, Chula Vista, CA 919152015 Birch Rd
OpenWed 7:00 am - 3:15 pm
  • Mon 7:00 am - 3:15 pm
  • Tue 7:00 am - 3:15 pm
  • Wed 7:00 am - 3:15 pm
  • Thu 7:00 am - 3:15 pm
  • Fri 7:00 am - 3:15 pm
  • Sat 7:00 am - 3:15 pm
  • Sun 7:00 am - 3:15 pm
covid-clinic-chula-vista-otay-ranch
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COVID testing & Rapid testing near me in El Cajon, CA

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4.6(2.5k reviews)
1625 E Main St, El Cajon, CA 920211625 E Main St
OpenWed 8:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Mon 8:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Tue 8:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Wed 8:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Thu 8:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Fri 8:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Sat 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Sun 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
east-county-urgent-care-urgent-care-work-injuries
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Recent patient review

The PA was very caring, understanding and friendly. She was very good with answering my questions regarding my ears, jaw and throat. The doctor was very professional with my problem. The RX were electronically transferred in a short time.
PCR Test
Results in 1-3 days

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4.81(404 reviews)
This clinic is rated highly in patient reviews and ratings

Highly Rated

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their friendly staff

Friendly Staff

1625 E Main St, El Cajon, CA 920211625 E Main St
View hours of operation
  • MonClosed
  • TueClosed
  • WedClosed
  • ThuClosed
  • FriClosed
  • SatClosed
  • SunClosed
east-county-urgent-care-video-visit
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Recent patient review

This was a virtual appointment. I waited almost an hour before I was seen.

Available times

4.67(985 reviews)
This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their friendly staff

Friendly Staff

1625 E Main St, El Cajon, CA 920211625 E Main St
View hours of operation
  • MonClosed
  • TueClosed
  • WedClosed
  • ThuClosed
  • FriClosed
  • SatClosed
  • SunClosed
east-county-urgent-care-rapid-covid-testing
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Recent patient review

The lady that did the testing was hot, like smokin' hot
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Antigen Test
Results in < 1 hour
$100
Antigen Test
Rapid
Results in < 1 hour
$100

Available times

2.33(3 reviews)
This clinic has shorter than average waiting periods

Short Wait Time

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their friendly staff

Friendly Staff

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their clean offices

Sparkling Clean

2015 Birch Rd, Chula Vista, CA 919152015 Birch Rd
OpenWed 7:00 am - 3:15 pm
  • Mon 7:00 am - 3:15 pm
  • Tue 7:00 am - 3:15 pm
  • Wed 7:00 am - 3:15 pm
  • Thu 7:00 am - 3:15 pm
  • Fri 7:00 am - 3:15 pm
  • Sat 7:00 am - 3:15 pm
  • Sun 7:00 am - 3:15 pm
covid-clinic-chula-vista-otay-ranch
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PCR Test
Rapid
Results in same day
$299
Antigen Test
Rapid
Results in < 1 hour
$129

Available times

4.82(3.4k reviews)
This clinic is rated highly in patient reviews and ratings

Highly Rated

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their clean offices

Sparkling Clean

10605 Scripps Poway Pkwy, San Diego, CA 9213110605 Scripps Poway Pkwy
OpenWed 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Mon 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Tue 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Wed 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Thu 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Fri 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Sat 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Sun 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
md-today-urgent-care-scripps-ranch
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Recent patient review

The staff and the doctors were very professional and very thorough and highly recommended.
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PCR Test
Rapid
Time to results unknown
$200
Antigen Test
Rapid
Results in 15 min
$99

Available times

5.0(2 reviews)
This clinic has shorter than average waiting periods

Short Wait Time

This clinic is rated highly in patient reviews and ratings

Highly Rated

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their friendly staff

Friendly Staff

644 Naples St, Chula Vista, CA 91911644 Naples St
OpenWed 6:30 am - 7:30 pm
  • Mon 6:30 am - 7:30 pm
  • Tue 6:30 am - 7:30 pm
  • Wed 6:30 am - 7:30 pm
  • Thu 6:30 am - 7:30 pm
  • Fri 6:30 am - 7:30 pm
  • Sat 8:00 am - 4:30 pm
  • Sun 8:00 am - 4:00 pm
covid-clinic-chula-vista-west
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PCR Test
Rapid
Results in same day
$299
Antigen Test
Rapid
Results in < 1 hour
$129

Available times

4.8(265 reviews)
This clinic is rated highly in patient reviews and ratings

Highly Rated

1602 Thomas Ave, San Diego, CA 921091602 Thomas Ave
OpenWed 8:00 am - 5:30 pm
  • Mon 8:00 am - 5:30 pm
  • Tue 8:00 am - 5:30 pm
  • Wed 8:00 am - 5:30 pm
  • Thu 8:00 am - 5:30 pm
  • Fri 8:00 am - 5:30 pm
  • Sat 8:00 am - 3:30 pm
  • Sun 8:00 am - 3:30 pm
sameday-health-san-diego-pacific-beach
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PCR Test
Rapid
Results in same day
Antigen Test
Rapid
Results in < 1 hour

Available times

4.83(2.5k reviews)
This clinic has shorter than average waiting periods

Short Wait Time

This clinic is rated highly in patient reviews and ratings

Highly Rated

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their clean offices

Sparkling Clean

3830 Valley Centre Dr, San Diego, CA 921303830 Valley Centre Dr
OpenWed 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Mon 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Tue 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Wed 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Thu 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Fri 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Sat 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Sun 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
md-today-urgent-care-carmel-valley
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Recent patient review

The care staff and dr were great and professional got taken care of fast and they were friendly would definitely go back
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PCR Test
Rapid
Results in 1-3 days
$200
Antigen Test
Rapid
Results in 15 min
$99

Available times

272 E Via Rancho Pkwy, Escondido, CA 92025272 E Via Rancho Pkwy
OpenWed 8:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Mon 8:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Tue 8:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Wed 8:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Thu 8:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Fri 8:00 am - 4:30 pm
  • Sat 8:00 am - 4:30 pm
  • SunClosed
covid-clinic-escondido-ca
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Self-pay pricing

Clear self-pay prices

No more surprise bills. Solv is committed to making getting healthcare as easy as buying groceries at the store, including knowing the price of care upfront.

PCR Test
Rapid
Results in same day
$299
Antigen Test
Rapid
Results in < 1 hour
$129

Available times

4.79(34 reviews)
This clinic has shorter than average waiting periods

Short Wait Time

This clinic is rated highly in patient reviews and ratings

Highly Rated

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their friendly staff

Friendly Staff

1855 S Centre City Pkwy, Escondido, CA 920251855 S Centre City Pkwy
OpenWed 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Mon 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Tue 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Wed 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Thu 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Fri 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Sat 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Sun 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
carbon-health-escondido
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Recent patient review

So clean, so professional, so nice, so quick!! Too good ta'be true!! Thanks guys! !Yall Rock!!!!
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No more surprise bills. Solv is committed to making getting healthcare as easy as buying groceries at the store, including knowing the price of care upfront.

PCR Test
Rapid
Results in 1-3 days
$160
Antigen Test
Rapid
Results in same day
$75

Available times

4.97(151 reviews)
This clinic has shorter than average waiting periods

Short Wait Time

This clinic is rated highly in patient reviews and ratings

Highly Rated

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their friendly staff

Friendly Staff

727 W San Marcos Blvd, San Marcos, CA 92078727 W San Marcos Blvd
OpenWed 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Mon 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Tue 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Wed 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Thu 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Fri 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • SatClosed
  • SunClosed
exhort-health-urgent-care-san-marcos
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Recent patient review

This is my second time here and both times your staff has been wonderful. They made me feel comfortable and confident. I have and will continue to recommend EHUC. The booking on line system made it so easy. Two thumbs up,5 stars and high praises!
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PCR Test
Rapid
Results in < 1 hour
$167
Antigen Test
Rapid
Results in 15 min
$127

Available times

4.89(19 reviews)
This clinic has shorter than average waiting periods

Short Wait Time

This clinic is rated highly in patient reviews and ratings

Highly Rated

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their friendly staff

Friendly Staff

109 S Las Posas Rd, San Marcos, CA 92078109 S Las Posas Rd
OpenWed 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Mon 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Tue 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Wed 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Thu 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Fri 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Sat 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Sun 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
carbon-health-san-marcos
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Self-pay pricing

Clear self-pay prices

No more surprise bills. Solv is committed to making getting healthcare as easy as buying groceries at the store, including knowing the price of care upfront.

PCR Test
Rapid
Results in 1-3 days
$160
Antigen Test
Rapid
Results in same day
$60

Available times

4.77(26 reviews)
This clinic has shorter than average waiting periods

Short Wait Time

This clinic is rated highly in patient reviews and ratings

Highly Rated

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their friendly staff

Friendly Staff

6971 El Camino Real, Carlsbad, CA 920096971 El Camino Real
OpenWed 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Mon 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Tue 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Wed 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Thu 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Fri 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Sat 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Sun 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
carbon-health-la-costa
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Recent patient review

Very friendly staff. Had an appointment and was able to get in same-day through their online booking system. Doctor was very friendly and knowledgeable, and answered all my questions patiently. This is my second time at Carbon and have had great experiences both times.
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Self-pay pricing

Clear self-pay prices

No more surprise bills. Solv is committed to making getting healthcare as easy as buying groceries at the store, including knowing the price of care upfront.

PCR Test
Rapid
Results in same day
$160
Antigen Test
Rapid
Results in same day
$75

Available times

4.44(531 reviews)
295 S Rancho Santa Fe Rd, San Marcos, CA 92078295 S Rancho Santa Fe Rd
OpenWed 9:00 am - 9:00 pm
  • Mon 9:00 am - 9:00 pm
  • Tue 9:00 am - 9:00 pm
  • Wed 9:00 am - 9:00 pm
  • Thu 9:00 am - 9:00 pm
  • Fri 9:00 am - 9:00 pm
  • Sat 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Sun 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
carlsbad-urgent-care-covid-testing
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Recent patient review

Great ppl they took me right in and handle the situation fast thank u
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No more surprise bills. Solv is committed to making getting healthcare as easy as buying groceries at the store, including knowing the price of care upfront.

Antigen Test
Rapid
Results in < 1 hour
$140

Available times

4.62(1.3k reviews)
295 S Rancho Santa Fe Rd, San Marcos, CA 92078295 S Rancho Santa Fe Rd
OpenWed 9:00 am - 9:00 pm
  • Mon 9:00 am - 9:00 pm
  • Tue 9:00 am - 9:00 pm
  • Wed 9:00 am - 9:00 pm
  • Thu 9:00 am - 9:00 pm
  • Fri 9:00 am - 9:00 pm
  • Sat 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Sun 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
carlsbad-urgent-care-san-marcos
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Recent patient review

We had a fairly long wait of over 1 and 1/2 hours . The staff did warn us about the wait at the check in and said they were short staffed. The PA was awesome, very attentive and thorough.
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Clear self-pay prices

No more surprise bills. Solv is committed to making getting healthcare as easy as buying groceries at the store, including knowing the price of care upfront.

PCR Test
Results in 1-5 days
$95

Available times

5.0(1 reviews)
This clinic has shorter than average waiting periods

Short Wait Time

This clinic is rated highly in patient reviews and ratings

Highly Rated

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their friendly staff

Friendly Staff

450 S Melrose Dr, Vista, CA 92081450 S Melrose Dr
View hours of operation
  • MonClosed
  • TueClosed
  • WedClosed
  • ThuClosed
  • FriClosed
  • SatClosed
  • SunClosed
online-and-home-care-with-lux-nursing-on-site-covid-19-testing
Book online
Bill Icon

Self-pay pricing

Clear self-pay prices

No more surprise bills. Solv is committed to making getting healthcare as easy as buying groceries at the store, including knowing the price of care upfront.

PCR Test
Rapid
Results in same day
$150
Antigen Test
Rapid
Results in same day

Available times

5.0(1 reviews)
This clinic is rated highly in patient reviews and ratings

Highly Rated

2515 El Camino Real, Carlsbad, CA 920082515 El Camino Real
OpenWed 7:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Mon 7:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Tue 7:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Wed 7:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Thu 7:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Fri 7:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Sat 8:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Sun 8:00 am - 4:00 pm
covid-clinic-carlsbad
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Bill Icon

Self-pay pricing

Clear self-pay prices

No more surprise bills. Solv is committed to making getting healthcare as easy as buying groceries at the store, including knowing the price of care upfront.

PCR Test
Rapid
Results in same day
$299
Antigen Test
Rapid
Results in < 1 hour
$129

Available times

4.5(2 reviews)
This clinic has shorter than average waiting periods

Short Wait Time

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their friendly staff

Friendly Staff

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their clean offices

Sparkling Clean

2484 Vista Way, Oceanside, CA 920542484 Vista Way
OpenWed 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Mon 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Tue 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Wed 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Thu 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Fri 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Sat 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Sun 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
carbon-health-oceanside
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Recent patient review

Dr was wonderful with thoroughness re listening multiple times to my husbands lungs. Confident that they were clear made him feel less anxious.
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Self-pay pricing

Clear self-pay prices

No more surprise bills. Solv is committed to making getting healthcare as easy as buying groceries at the store, including knowing the price of care upfront.

PCR Test
Rapid
Results in same day
$160
Antigen Test
Rapid
Results in same day
$60

Available times

4.36(537 reviews)
408 S Lincoln Ave, El Cajon, CA 92020408 S Lincoln Ave
priority-lab-testing
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Recent patient review

I was able to choose a Quest lab location and schedule an appointment. Check in was easy, and I only needed to provide my name and DOB. They were able to locate my order in their system. They were already aware that my labs were paid for prior to the appointment. I had my labs done on a Wednesday, and I received my results by Saturday. Great experience.

4.41(524 reviews)
863 E Main St, El Cajon, CA 92020863 E Main St
priority-lab-testing
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Recent patient review

After receiving my results, I called Priority Lab Testing and discussed the results with a consultation. This consultation filled in my knowledge gaps and made me more aware of my particular situation.
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VIDEO: Dr. Isaac Thomsen, pediatric infectious disease specialist, discusses COVID-19 and Delta variant and what in means for kids.Watch now!

Latest COVID-19 Testing Updates

Oct 31, 2022
A surge in respiratory syncytial virus is putting severe strain on children's hospitals nationwide. Hospitals first began seeing the unseasonable RSV rise in August. Now, many are reporting a case increase of over 300 percent compared to last month. (Becker's)
Oct 28, 2022
With the BQ.1.1 variant on the rise in Europe, experts express concern of a rise in COVID cases this winter; encourage everyone to max out their boosters and vaccinate their children (Houston Chronicle)

COVID-19 Testing FAQs

  • How much does COVID testing cost in El Cajon?

    In many cases, COVID testing can be free. Many state and local health departments continue to offer free testing to community residents as part of their response to the pandemic. In other cases, commercially insured patients, or those on Medicare or Medicaid, may receive testing at no out of pocket cost, or with a nominal office visit copay. For cash paying patients, or those that need rapid COVID testing which will deliver results in under an hour, COVID tests can range from $50 to $150 each. It is best to call your healthcare provider prior to getting tested to better understand the cost of the specific test you require.

  • Where can I get free COVID testing in El Cajon?

    COVID testing is available for free under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which includes testing for those without health insurance. Check with your El Cajon-area health department as they are generally a good source for free COVID tests, or can at least point you in the right direction. Additionally, you can ask your primary care provider to recommend a free COVID test site.

  • Where can I get COVID testing in El Cajon?

    COVID testing is available at many outlets near El Cajon including urgent care centers, retail clinics, primary care offices, health departments, and more. Different venues will have different types of tests available, many at different price points. Some testing sites are allowing walk-in patients, however, many are still requiring some degree of advance booking to control patient volume.

  • Where can I get a rapid COVID test in El Cajon?

    Rapid testing—both PCR (molecular) and antigen tests—is offered through many El Cajon-area urgent care centers and physician offices, usually at an additional cost ranging from $50 up to $150 per test. Usually this will allow you to get results back in under an hour, and require advanced booking through the provider. However, if you can wait 24 hours for your results, many labs are turning around send-out lab tests in that time frame, which could save you some money.

  • How to make an appointment for COVID testing in El Cajon?

    Same-day and next day appointments for COVID testing in El Cajon are bookable directly through Solv. Simply browse the list of healthcare providers conducting COVID tests above, find one with a “Book Online” button, and book a time that aligns with your schedule stating “COVID-19 Test” as your reason for visit.

  • Can I get tested for antibodies if I am sick with COVID-19 El Cajon?

    An antibody test for COVID-19 might inform you if you previously had a coronavirus infection. Because it can take between 1–3 weeks after an infection for your body to develop these antibodies, an antibody test during an active infection would not be successful. To see if you are currently infected, you need a viral test.

  • Do I need a COVID test if I have been vaccinated?

    Even if you have been fully vaccinated, if you have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, experts believe that you should be tested yourself, particularly if you are experiencing cold and flu symptoms commonly aligned with the coronavirus.

  • How long does COVID testing take?

    Getting a COVID test is quick. Most tests are done with a nasal swab, which takes less than a minute to swab both nostrils. Depending on where you get your COVID test, this means you could be in and out of the testing site in as little as 10-15 minutes. During busy times—particularly around holidays—testing sites may be busier than usual and wait times may be longer.

  • How long does it take to get COVID test results in El Cajon?

    Most labs are returning send-out molecular (PCR) COVID test results within 24-48 hours of the test. Some sites take longer, so call and ask if the reason for the test is proof for travel. Rapid COVID tests are processed on-site and are able to deliver results in under an hour, sometimes in as little as 15 min.

  • Do COVID tests detect the Delta variant and Omicron variant?

    Regular COVID tests are able to detect both the Delta variant and Omicron variant in that they can determine whether or not you have the coronavirus. However, they can't tell which variation is involved. That would necessitate genomic sequencing, which is a different process from regular virus testing that not all labs can undertake. Sequencing is uncommon and can cost up to $100 per test. Since the treatment is the same for any variant, it is not clinically useful to an individual patient to know whether the infection was caused by a variant or not.

Recent COVID-19 Testing Reviews (20)

My experience was good except people who were parked for Covid test did not stay in the car 🚗 they walked right into the waiting room! That is not acceptable! You need to monitor the testing parking ! Omg

- Verified patient on 10/18

Made a same day appt for a rapid covid test; employees available easily by phone for arrival notification. Printed test results available within 30 minutes. Very grateful for how quickly things were completed so my little one can get back to school!

- Verified patient on 5/16

I had a rapid covid test. The process from start to finish was completely smooth and well organized. The sweet nurse that administered my test was so kind informative and gentle.

- Verified patient on 1/9

I waited outside for a covid test and I actually checked in a few minutes late for my appointment (oops) and I was still seen quickly. The nurse was very nice and gentle, would visit again!

- Verified patient on 1/4

I think your set up is excellent. I got the rapid covid test and the experience was beyond awesome. Easy to book and the.response time.was super quick and everyone was super attentive!! Thank you so much.

- Verified patient on 10/22

I needed a last minute rapid Covid Test in order to be my moms support person after surgery and they were very gracious to get me in without an appointment. I’m VERY grateful for their help and I was able to help my mom.

- Verified patient on 9/2

I came in today for a rapid Covid test. The wait time was appropriate, and the provider was super friendly. As promised my results came back in less than one hour. I feel like $150 is a little bit steep but I guess in this case it is worth the peace of mind. This encounter was efficient, and effective. To put it another way it was so, NOT Kaiser Permanente. Keep up the great work!

- Verified patient on 12/24

I went to the clinic on my lunch break for Covid test. The staff was fast, helpful, understanding and so kind.

- Verified patient on 8/10

Quick n easy, Sucks we had to pay $240 for 2 negative Covid tests when we've had em for free previously

- Verified patient on 5/17

It was a car visit to get my covid test. I had an appointment and it was done with in 15 minutes of appointment time. It was easy to get a hold of people to figure out what I needed to do :)

- Verified patient on 7/20

I been here back to back for a Covid test. The first time (evening) I wasn't sure if I was able to get a test as a walk in. I was able to get one done within the hour! I scheduled another slot the next day and they were able to get me in and out within 45mins. Best part, I thought I needed to pay however, they were able to confirmed that my insurance would be able to cover it. Best news in my life!! They're in the sports world..#clutch

- Verified patient on 10/20

Covid test, very nice staff ...things went very negative...... and test was negative....yipee.

- Verified patient on 8/5

It was super easy to make an appt for covid testing; completed same day and received results within 45 mins!

- Verified patient on 10/20

Got a drive up rapid covid test. I made an appt for 4pm, got there at 3:20, checked in via the app. Was in and out ahead of schedule. I also got a prompt response. I wish it went that smoothly whenever I go to the doctor.

- Verified patient on 9/8

I went for a drive up Covid test so I was not inside the facility.

- Verified patient on 2/7

I was booked an appointment for COVID test, I wait like 20 minutes more that was booked but it’s okay, the staff was nice and helpful, thanks.

- Verified patient on 11/1

Great service we have a employee account with you guys most excellent came to get a Covid test and it went really fast

- Verified patient on 8/4

I came from a rapid covid test it was really fast both check in and the test results. Very friendly.

- Verified patient on 9/24

I went for a Covid test, it was so fast, easy and painless!

- Verified patient on 11/19

I needed help in using my phone to check in. I wasted an hour not reliziing I needed to fill out a form on my phone. Finally figured out. Now I'm waiting on the result on my Covid test.

- Verified patient on 12/30

El Cajon COVID Testing & Rapid Testing

Types of COVID Tests

There are two types of coronavirus tests (COVID-19 tests) available, those that can test for a current infection (viral test) and those that can test for a past infection (antibody test).

Viral COVID testing can be done in a few different ways, the most common being nose swabs, but saliva tests are becoming more popular. Some tests are processed out on-site and can provide results in as little as 30 minutes. These are called rapid COVID tests. The majority of tests, on the other hand, are collected at the clinic on-site and then submitted to off-site labs for processing. Results can take up to 2-3 days to arrive. 

Antibody testing looks for a past infection and may not reveal if you have an active COVID-19 infection because antibodies can take up to three weeks to form in your body. The presence of COVID antibodies may help to prevent you from becoming infected with the same virus again; but, because the clinical understanding of COVID-19 is still developing, it's unclear how long that protection will continue.

Who should get tested for current infection

The CDC currently defines four instances where COVID testing is recommended:

  1. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 including 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, or diarrhea.
  2. If you have been in close contact with someone with confirmed COVID-19. Close contact is defined as within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. If you have been vaccinated, or tested positive in the past 3 months and not experiencing symptoms, you do not need to be tested.
  3. If you are unvaccinated and participated in high-risk activities where distancing is not an option. This could include travel, large social or mass gatherings, crowded indoor settings, etc.
  4. If you have been referred to get a COVID test by your healthcare provider or local health department. 

How is testing done for COVID-19?

Most COVID tests are collected by a nasal swab. A member of the medical team puts a swab inside your nose for a few seconds on each side to collect the sample. After that, the samples are packaged according to CDC guidelines and tested on-site or transported to a facility for testing. The lab will test samples for the presence of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), which causes COVID infection and either your care provider or the lab will notify you with the results as soon as they are available.

PCR vs Antigen Testing

Viral COVID tests are available as molecular and antigen tests. The molecular test, also known as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, usually delivers results within a few days since most of these tests are sent to offsite labs for analysis. The average turnaround time for PCR test results is 48 hours, but in some instances may be significantly longer due to backlogs related to insufficient lab volume and capacity. Antigen tests are also known as rapid tests and have an average turnaround time of between 15 to 30 minutes.

Both PCR and rapid COVID tests can be used to test people exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, those who were close contacts to COVID-19, and those without COVID-19 symptoms who live or work in a high-risk setting (such as a nursing facility); or those individuals who are identified as part of outbreak detection and response. The rapid COVID test is also recommended for the screening of residents or healthcare workers at skilled nursing facilities along with a PCR confirmation, and for repeat screening for the early detection and prevention of outbreaks in congregate settings (such as schools, workplaces, and prisons).

COVID testing is available for free under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which includes testing for those without health insurance. To reduce the risk of facing extra costs related to COVID testing, ask your primary care doctor to recommend a free COVID test site, and confirm there are no charges or fees for the test that are not covered by your insurance plan. Additionally, avoid getting a COVID test at a hospital or free-standing emergency room, as these facilities may charge fees for COVID testing and related services.

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