SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Members of the general public can now get tested to see if they have possibly been exposed to the novel coronavirus from the comfort of their own vehicle.
A drive-thru clinic was set up in a parking lot in Cardiff at MiraCosta College's San Elijo campus.
The founders of Covid Clinic saw success in Orange County and decided to expand testing services to San Diego County.
"I was a little bit surprised at how quickly it took off," said President of MiraCosta College, Dr. Sunny Cooke. "Everyone remains in their car and they are following the guidelines of the CDC and the county health services."
Cooke said the school decided to allow Covid Clinic to use the Cardiff location free of charge because they wanted to help.
"This was certainly a need within the community to make sure people had access to adequate testing," she explained. "We have waived civic center fees for the use of our facilities to make that a community service that we provide to our community."
The testing site is open every day to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
An appointment is not required and payments are processed at the campus.
There are two types of COVID-19 tests offered: an antibody test and a nasopharyngeal test.
The antibody serological test costs $75 and requires a poke of your finger to get a blood sample.
In 15 minutes, you will know if you had possibly been exposed to the novel coronavirus and developed antibodies. Covid Clinic said it works best if you have been sick for about five to seven days or longer.
But the accuracy of this type of testing has been controversial.
Monday, medical director for the County Epidemiology and Immunization Branch Dr. Eric McDonald said this type of antibody testing can be difficult to interpret.
"A positive test, might not mean it’s positive test," McDonald said. "A negative might not be negative."
He said antibody tests are challenging because they are not as precise as other forms of testing.
"We are working with our local health systems, with the state and with the FDA to try to understand how these tests fit in to the overall interpretation of this disease," said McDonald. "Something we don't know about these serology tests, whether it means specifically if you were infected with this coronavirus or another coronavirus."
McDonald explained that when San Diego County saw local Zika Virus cases years ago, some of the serology tests were difficult to understand.
He said it sometimes took several weeks to determine if a patient was infected with Zika or another disease.
"If you take the test too early it could be a false negative even if you have the disease," he said.
The other test available at the drive-thru is a nasopharyngeal test. That costs $125 and requires a swab to be entered through the nose.
This type of testing looks for the virus itself and will let you know if you are actively carrying it. It takes two to three days for results to return.
"That test looks like it's based on the technology that has been confirmed by the CDC," said McDonald.
Credit card is the preferred payment method for both tests. You will be charged at the testing location.
For more information about Covid Clinic's testing click here.