CA overhauls guidelines to prioritize testing amid spike in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations

California has revamped its guidelines for COVID-19 testing to focus on those in hospitals or considered at high risk of infection as the surging pandemic strains testing capacity.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KABC) -- California has revamped its guidelines for COVID-19 testing to focus on those in hospitals or considered at high risk of infection as the surging pandemic strains testing capacity.

The state health department on Tuesday released a four-tier priority system for testing.


Those hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms top the list along with "close contacts" of those with infections. Next in line are those living in high-risk facilities such as nursing homes, prisons and homeless shelters, along with health care and emergency service workers.

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The third tier includes workers in retail, manufacturing, food services, agriculture, public transportation and education.

California health plans already cover testing at no cost to the patient if the test is ordered by a physican.

Those without symptoms and not in essential jobs will not be prioritized for testing until results can be returned within 48 hours.


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California's surging virus caseload has left testing supplies short and lengthened the wait time for results.

Officials say 9% of those tested in Los Angeles County have tested positive for the virus, higher than the state's rate of 7%.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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