How to get COVID tests via LA County, pharmacies, drugstores — and avoid scams


LA County is offering at-home test kits through the Pick-Up Testing Program and the Home Test Collection Program. You can also buy home kits from drugstores and pharmacies. Photo by Shutterstock.

With the Omicron variant surging and infection rates rising throughout Los Angeles County, you might be searching for a COVID-19 test. Here’s guidance on navigating your way to getting tested:

Check the LA County website for testing centers in your area, and see if they have any available appointments. If not, check if the testing site has a walk-up option. Either way, clear your schedule for an hour or two — wait times at these sites vary.

LA County is offering at-home test kits through two programs:

  • The Pick-Up Testing Program requires you to head to one of 13 testing sites across the county, no appointment necessary, and pick up a PCR test kit. You use the test at home and return it for processing. They claim results will be available within 24-48 hours.

  • The Home Test Collection Program delivers tests directly to your door. The program shut down temporarily last week due to an overwhelming number of orders, but is back up and running. You self-administer the test and send back for results, which are guaranteed within 24-48 hours.

Call drugstores and ask when they restock at-home rapid tests before you head out to hunt for one.

Check pharmacy websites to see if they have at-home tests in stock, and expect to wait a few days before they arrive.

Watch out for COVID test scams. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced last week that fake at-home testing kits are popping up online. They recommend not buying a test unless it’s authorized by the FDA, and to pay by credit card so you can dispute the charge if the test either never arrives or turns out to be fraudulent. Avoid resale sites like eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and Craigslist.

Also watch out for scams at pop-up tents advertising COVID testing. Be wary if someone asks for personal information like a credit card. Try to verify their legitimacy by asking questions about which lab will process your results. If they’re legitimate, they’ll have an answer.