Find out what to expect at your COVID-19 test

Go at your scheduled time. Bring your photo ID. Follow these instructions when you get there.

Go to your test at your scheduled time. Bring a photo ID with your date of birth.

Wear a mask.

The process will take about 20 minutes.

If you feel seriously ill, please do not come to your test. Seek care with your medical provider.

About the test

  • The test detects if you have the virus at the time of the test.  
  • It does not test for immunity or if you had the virus in the past.
  • If your test is negative, you must remain cautious.  You can still get infected.

In vehicle: Keep windows rolled up and follow sign instructions

If you arrive at the site in a car, keep your windows rolled up.

With your window up, you will be asked to show an attendant your photo ID.

You will then go to a second station for the sample collection process.

At the sample collection station, you will turn off your vehicle, roll your window down, and verify your name and date of birth.

On foot, bicycle, scooter or other transport: Wear a mask and follow sign instructions

If you arrive at the site on foot, bicycle, scooter, or other transport, be sure to wear a mask and stay 6 feet away from others. 

Follow the attendant’s signs. You will be asked to show your photo ID.

You will then go to a second station for the sample collection process.

At the sample collection station, verify your name and date of birth. Follow the attendant’s instructions.

How we will collect your sample

To take your sample, the clinician will ask you to tilt your head back 70 degrees. They will insert the swab into one of your nostrils to collect the sample. It will be held in place and then rotated to collect the sample.

The clinician will then pack your sample for processing.

Then they will hand you a card with your barcode on it.

Please keep your barcode card secure. You will need it to get your test results. We recommend that you take a picture of your barcode card in case you lose it.

Your test results

Test results typically take 1 to 3 days, though the actual time may vary. Color, our COVID-19 testing lab, will email or text you when your results are ready. You can also check your results with your barcode at Color’s test results website.

The results will be shared with the City of San Francisco’s Department of Public Health and the California Reportable Disease Information Exchange (CalREDIE), as required by law.

If you are an employee of the City and County of San Francisco, the results will also be shared with the Department of Human Resources to help keep our workplaces safe and healthy.

Find out what to expect after your test.

Last updated May 07, 2020