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How easy/cheap IS Covid Testing where you are?

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Have to make an appointment, but no symptoms or exposure necessary (must take an online questionnaire). This summer, there was only free PCR testing in the big cities (so a 1 hr+ drive for us) or private testing (symptoms, must see a doc) locally $$. Now, there is free weekly testing locally or within a 30 minute drive but it is booked over a week out. I got on the list for testing (today) a week ago Thursday. Not sure how fast results will be back. Quick & easy testing in car/drive up. Red state.

Dd#1 is in a different red state & it was relatively easy to get a drive up test (no appt, no symptoms) in her area this summer. Cost was billed to insurance. Now, there is theoretically free testing through her university but in practice, they are denying students who ask for testing. The former drive up places are closed or restricted. There is a place you can go if you are desperate but you  must have symptoms, have to go in, & they require you to get a rapid flu test first. If it is negative, they will give you a covid test. Everywhere else needs a doctor's order from what I've seen. Also a red state.

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Here in our red state testing is almost $200 at a clinic but you can get free testing at the county health department. We got tested three weeks ago. You just need to call and make an appointment. However, I just heard from a friend that her daughter was having trouble getting tested there. Cases are up so maybe they're running low on supplies. Not sure.

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24 minutes ago, KungFuPanda said:

I naively thought this was national. 

Exactly why I asked the question. We're all (not just here... everyone, everywhere) having such different experiences that we talk around one another sometimes. Someone in my shoes would be wondering why someone else didn't just "go and get a test done" if they were worried about an exposure or if they had a minor symptom. Then to find out that some people are paying $100+ for each test and their reluctance suddenly makes more sense! Some are getting results back from a PCR test in hours - others are 96 hours+!! Some are walking/driving right up for a test - others are unable to even schedule reasonably soon after an exposure! Some have to get a doctor's referral, others can't find a testing site anywhere!

The pendulum swings wildly on this one!

Enlightening and surreal and disappointing that 8+ months into this mess and there isn't some standardized framework in place for something so vital. If we could all just have ACCESS to free tests with fast results, it would be so much easier and safer to continue doing ALL the things in life (while wearing masks, of course)!

Before this, I really believed that we had James Bond capabilities somewhere within our government. That curtain has surely been pulled aside! We can't even get adequate tests manufactured and processed reliably 8+ months into this crisis! A woman can grow an entirely formed human being in that time! Ugh!

Thanks for the replies. They were so informative.

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My experience in the UK is that COVID tests are unobtainable unless:

a) one is in a hospital and tells someone they cannot confirm (and have reasonable doubt about) their COVID-negativity, or medical staff suspect COVID is a possible cause of one's symptoms.
b) one is very lucky with the online system (and doesn't mind having their personal data sold to a random company abroad for no apparent reason, which is putting some people off). It takes 2-3 days for the round trip of booking the test, having it delivered, self-administering the test and sending it back, depending on what time the request is submitted and whether there' is capacity (there usually isn't, hence the luck factor), which must be added onto the test processing time.

c) one can drive to a test centre (my nearest one is 25 miles away - and does not admit pedestrians or people on public transport because it uses the car itself as a crude form of protection for the workers). This requires an appointment, though some can handle a short-notice appointment (of the "I'll book it, then drive there right away" variety), depending on demand.
d) one happens to work in a place where COVID tests are provided by employers (in some sectors it's mandatory e.g. care homes, some enlightened employers are paying for tests in the hope this keeps employees safe). Usually these are collected at the end of the working day, if lab processing will be required (some employers who aren't legally required to test are using "rapid testing" instead, which doesn't use a lab and gives results in under 90 minutes). Employers doing this generally schedule it regularly (e.g. weekly).

Only option a) enables one to get assistance if one cannot self-administer the test (so someone like me cannot be tested outside a hospital setting).

With the exception of some people in d), minimum time for results return is 3 days. Some people have had to wait 3 weeks and some have had their tests lost, requiring a repeat of the process. (I occasionally feel jealous of people in Senegal, where nearly everyone gets results back in 1 day or less, regardless of why or how they are getting the test).

Currently, all tests are free (except for employers in d) that aren't legally required to provide tests, in which case the employers are paying around £120 per test - price is similar for lab-processed tests and "rapid tests"; the former are much more reliable in community settings, but the latter are much faster). I'm not convinced many individuals would happily pay for the process currently in place for a)-c)...

Edited by ieta_cassiopeia
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Testing is readily available at no cost in my state now. This hasn’t always been the case but the state government has recently opened many large saliva test sites across the state in addition to the doctor’s offices that were already offering the standard nasal probe. They also recently announced saliva tests at home, through the mail, at no charge. My son was recently quarantined due to a school exposure and the results were back within 24 hours. 

Edited by Gobblygook
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and knowledge people have is variable

In some cities there is free testing at some Rite Aid pharmacies for people over age 18 who meet the screening.  (This isn’t a lot of help to those of us in rural areas, especially if feeling sick— but since Afaik many Oregonians don’t know it exists at all I included list at bottom.) 

There is / has been “free” (paid for by Federal or State etc government funds) testing in certain circumstances like Native tribes, evacuation from wildfires.

There is the possibility of home testing kits for ~ $109-155 (Dont know if shipping is extra $$ or not.)

There is testing at various hospitals and Urgent Care, for $$$ and often discouraged for many who don’t have symptoms or risk factors.  

(eta- whether insurance covers or not apparently depends on the insurance plan, or so I am told, no personal experience on this.) 

There is a ton of testing, apparently, of college and university students... 


Oregon [free testing at Rite Aids list]

  • Beaverton
  • Canby
  • Corvallis
  • Hermiston
  • Klamath Falls
  • Lebanon
  • McMinnville
  • Milton-Freewater
  • Ontario
  • Oregon City
  • Pendleton
  • Phoenix
  • Portland
  • Roseburg
  • Salem
  • Silverton
Edited by Pen
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