How to Find a Free COVID Test Near You in 2023 (Because It's Getting Harder)

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In this photo illustration, a COVID-19 self-test package is seen displayed on a table. This self-test package is designed and sold by iHealth Labs, a company in California, and made in China. (Photo illustration by Michael Ho Wai Lee/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Finding it harder to get a COVID-19 test lately? You’re not alone.

California's pandemic state of emergency is set to end on Feb. 28, and President Biden recently announced that the federal emergency status for the nation will end May 11.

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These states of emergency have given government officials more flexibility to respond faster and bypass certain bureaucratic barriers to respond to the health crisis that’s now entering its third year. Ending those executive orders means a large portion of funding for free COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinics will end — and costs for individuals will creep up.

"We are still in the middle of a pandemic, but we are transitioning from a full-blown response where we have a sense of urgency every day, to one where we are adapting to living with COVID," Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County’s health officer, said at a press briefing on Feb. 1.

What could the end of these COVID orders mean for you?

After May 11 the federal government will no longer require insurance companies to reimburse families for eight at-home COVID tests per month.

But, Californians have a little more wiggle room. Thanks to a state bill passed in October 2021, Californians with insurance will have until November 2023 to seek reimbursement from insurance providers for over-the-counter COVID-19 tests. Find out how to claim reimbursement from your insurer for rapid antigen tests.

Some jurisdictions are already winding down testing centers. San Francisco and Santa Clara counties, two of the first local jurisdictions in the country to declare COVID a public health emergency, both recently announced plans to close mass testing sites.

San Francisco health officials said it was closing its free drive-up testing site on Alemany Blvd. due to a combination of reduced funding and “low demand.”

Those changes come alongside several positive milestones for the pandemic: Nearly 73% of Californians have received their primary dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 61% are boosted.

Treatments like Paxlovid, which no longer requires a positive test to acquire, and enhanced bivalent booster shots are also now widely available.

"On May 12, you can still walk into a pharmacy and get your bivalent vaccine. For free. On May 12, if you get COVID, you can still get your Paxlovid. For free. None of that changes," White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha recently tweeted.

To be sure, COVID continues to affect lives every day, and the virus is not going away after the emergency orders end. Around 500 people in the U.S. continue to die every day from COVID, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It’s really important for our community to understand the repercussions of the emergency state being lifted. Things will not be free,” said Susana Rojas, spokesperson for the Latino Task Force in San Francisco. “Just because the ordinance is being lifted doesn't mean COVID has stopped, it just means we are learning how to live with it.”

Even after the emergency orders end, testing will remain a critical tool for reducing the spread. Here are some pointers on how to secure a COVID test after the federal order changes.

A reminder on when to test for COVID

Regardless of your vaccination status, if you're experiencing COVID symptoms, you should get tested.

Symptoms include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath, body aches or headaches, and new loss of taste or smell. Sore throats were also found to be more common among people infected with the omicron variant, which continues to be the most common variant in the U.S.

Anyone who has shared indoor airspace with an infected person should consider testing about three to five days after exposure, according to the state’s most recent guidance on when to test for COVID. (Please note this time frame has slightly shifted from guidance given earlier in the pandemic about the delta variant, which recommended waiting for at least five days.)

Order free at-home COVID tests from the US government via USPS (while supplies last)

Every U.S. household is still eligible to receive four free at-home COVID antigen tests. No payment or credit card details are required to place an order. You also don't need to provide any ID or health insurance information.

You can place your order for these four free COVID tests online at, or order from USPS by phone at (800) 232-0233.

You should order your free tests now. After the federal emergency order ends, the free at-home tests will likely stop once supplies run out after May.

A woman with black hair and dark brown skin, wearing a black skirt and bright pink sweater walks across a stone plaza in the background. In the foreground is a blue sign saying "No Cost To You" COVID-19 Testing. A pink swirl wraps around the words: No Cost To You.

Find a COVID test through your health care provider

If you are insured with major Bay Area providers such as Kaiser Permanente or Sutter Health, the easiest option to secure a COVID test may be to make an appointment through that particular provider. Most providers offer sign-ups online through a member’s personal login, and appointments can also be made by phone.

People with private insurance may experience new out-of-pocket costs for PCR tests after the emergency order ends, depending on the provider.

Medicare will continue to cover PCR test costs. And under the American Rescue Plan, people on Medicaid can continue to get free at-home tests until September 2024.

Most people regardless of insurance coverage will have to pay for over-the-counter rapid at-home COVID tests after the federal emergency order ends. In California, a state law that requires insurers to keep their current reimbursement rules for six months after the federal public health emergency ends on May 11 means that you have until at least Nov. 11 to seek reimbursement for rapid tests through your insurance provider.

Find a COVID test through your Bay Area county

Many publicly funded testing sites are closing down — but not all.

In San Francisco, free community-based testing sites such as those overseen by the Latino Task Force at 701 Alabama St. and 24th and Capp streets in the Mission; 20 Norton St. in the Excelsior; and the Southeast Health Center at 2401 Keith St. will all remain open, county public health officials confirmed.

La Clínica de la Raza runs mobile and brick-and-mortar testing in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Doctors there told KQED they plan to maintain their free community testing program after the California and federal states of emergency end.

But their longer-term future is unclear, since funding for staff and testing supplies will rely on county-level allocations after federal funding ends. "California provided a lot of the rapid antigen tests to counties, and if the state stops doing that we’ll have to find other ways to get those. The rapid tests are game changers and some patients really need us to administer that for them," said La Clínica Chief Medical Officer Dr. Paul Bayard.

Updated testing and vaccination site locations can be found at each county’s testing webpage below:

Find a COVID test from your school district

Many Bay Area school districts that have offered COVID testing for students and staff — and sometimes the families of students — during the pandemic are continuing their programs through the 2022–23 school year.

San Francisco Unified will continue to offer free self-swab COVID test kits to students and staff who are feeling sick.

Oakland Unified has COVID testing and vaccination clinics at schools and district buildings daily for staff, students and their family members.

Find a COVID test at these other providers

Remember: These results may be duplicated on your county's public health website, and are subject to change after the state of emergency ends. Always check to see whether you will be charged for a COVID test at these private testing facilities before your visit.

COVID Clinic COVID testing

  • Sites in South San Francisco (for San Francisco International Airport), Palo Alto, San José, Hayward and Dublin

Fulgent Genetics COVID testing

  • Site in Santa Clara

Carbon Health COVID testing

  • Multiple sites in San Francisco, Alameda, Oakland, Berkeley, San Leandro, San José and San Mateo

Color COVID testing

  • Sites in San Francisco, Oakland, San Leandro, Hayward, Fremont and Bay Point

Virus Geeks COVID testing

  • Sites in San Francisco, San Mateo, Redwood City, Woodside, Portola Valley, South San Francisco and Foster City

LHI/OptumServe COVID testing

  • Sites in Berkeley, San Mateo and Pleasant Hill

CityHealth COVID testing

  • Sites in San Francisco, Oakland, Livermore, Dublin, El Cerrito and San José

Total Testing Solutions

  • Site in Santa Clara


Find a COVID test at your local pharmacy

Walgreens offers free PCR tests to take home and mail in, with results in about two days. Walgreens says that no insurance is required, but you must register your collection kit with Labcorp and provide your demographic information to receive results.

Rite Aid also offers no-cost PCR tests to take home. The company says these will be billed to your insurance, if you have it, but that uninsured people who have COVID symptoms or who have been exposed are eligible for no-cost testing through Rite Aid's partner Quest Diagnostics.

But, some pharmacies that previously offered free COVID-19 testing on-site, in a pharmacy location, will start charging for those same tests after the federal emergency ends.

Citing the recent federal changes, Walgreens now states on its COVID-19 testing appointment website that "payment may be due at the time of your appointment."

Be careful to read the billing details if you are uninsured and it is marked as "free" or "no-cost." Check the following pharmacy websites to see what’s available in your area:

Find a COVID test through California's statewide testing map

California’s map of COVID testing and treatment sites will remain up and running after the states of emergency end.

But site closures might not be reflected right away, so call ahead before making the trip for a drop-in. (For example, San Francisco’s large testing site on Alemany Blvd. has closed, but the state still references it on its map.)