Sorrento Valley

COVID-19 Testing Readily Available … for a Price

A handful of private labs are offering paid testing as county health officials grapple with supply shortages.

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Due to a nationwide shortage in testing supplies, the county health department is making an effort to limit free COVID-19 testing to only those showing symptoms of the virus. Meanwhile, many other testing sites are seeing long delays for results.

But there is still a way to get a test with immediate results if you’re willing to pay for it.

“We started seeing the test timing going from three to five to seven days. At seven days you’re halfway through your quarantine stage,” said Bryan Andrus with US Specialty Labs.

The Sorrento Valley company has set up a drive-up testing sight in it’s parking lot and is able to produce results in about 24-hours.

Andrus said it’s an important service for people in immediate need of a COVID-19 test, even though they’re asymptomatic and unable to get a test through county services.

“We had somebody yesterday whose mother passed away and he couldn’t fly to go the funeral unless he had a test showing a negative result,” said Andrus.

Cameron Griffiths of Del Mar Heights said it took him about 30 minutes to sign up on-line and get a test for his 16-year old son, who had come in contact with a friend who tested positive.

“We called up our health provider and they said just go home and wait. And then if symptoms come up, we can come back and get tested,” said Griffiths.

Bo McKinley was also in line to be tested.

“I’m here because somebody at work tested positive and I don’t think I had any direct contact with him, but we’re all trying to be safe,” said McKinley.

There are a handful of private labs in San Diego currently charging for immediate testing.

Prices at the US Specialty Lab drive-up testing site range from $35 for an antibody test, $59 for an antigen test, and $85 for a standard PCR test.

Andrus says his company is able to produce fast results, in part, because they’re only testing about 150 people per day. The lab not running into a shortage of testing supplies facing the county and some doctors.

“We’re using a testing kit that is available and doesn’t require a lot of support from other materials,” said Andrus.

The lab uses the FDA approved Quidel antigen test. Quidel is also based in San Diego. Andrus said the tests are extremely accurate.

“There is always the potential for a false positive or a false negative, but it’s very, very small,” said Andrus.

He says the positivity rate is generally less than 6%. And the majority of positive cases are in people under the age of 24.

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