Frequently Asked Questions – PCR and Molecular Testing

Q: Can we test minors (under the age of 13)?

A: Yes. For students testing in school settings, the parent/guardian must complete the registration process, provide consent, and use their email/phone to obtain results—and can do so through a pre-registration link at home. For minors testing in other settings, the parent/guardian must be present, in person, in order to complete the registration process, provide consent, and use their email/phone to obtain results. It is up to the parent/guardian’s discretion on whether they or the child will administer the test. A parent or guardian can receive the results on behalf of a child (ages under 13) when they provide consent on behalf of that child.

Q: What if someone getting tested does not have insurance?

A: Neither the patient nor the entity will be liable to pay for the test. The State will recoup costs through alternative funds for those without insurance.

Q: Do I need a doctor or nurse to set-up a site?

A: No, not where tests will be self-administered. All such samples sent to the CDPH Valencia Branch Laboratory can be completed via a Blanket Order issued by the State Public Health Officer. This means that as long as there is someone trained to supervise self-collection, no clinician is required.

Q: Do you need training to pack patient samples for transport?

A: Packing guidance for safe transport is provided with the shipment of kits and must be followed. Personnel handling patient samples must follow their institutional guidelines on safe biological sample handling.

Q: Do people transporting patient samples need to be trained?

A: For transporting patient samples, personnel must be trained in the proper safety, packing, and shipping regulations for Division 6.2, UN 3373 Biological Substance, Category B in accordance with the current edition of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR). Personnel should be trained in a manner that corresponds to their function-specific responsibilities.

Q: What disinfectant should personnel use to decontaminate work surfaces?

A: Decontaminate work surfaces and equipment with appropriate disinfectants. Use EPA-registered hospital disinfectants with label claims to be effective against COVID-19. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations for use, such as dilution, contact time, and safe handling. While CDC guidance includes using bleach for cleaning – DO NOT USE BLEACH OR PRODUCTS WITH BLEACH. These samples are transported in Molecular Transport Media (MTM), which can create cyanide gas when it comes in contact with bleach.

Q: How should the site personnel remove biohazardous waste from the site or testing area for decontamination and disposal?

A: Handle laboratory waste from testing suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patient samples as all other biohazardous waste in the laboratory. Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that this laboratory waste needs additional packaging or disinfection procedures.

For additional information, refer to the Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) (5th edition)

Q: What are Standard Precautions?

A: Standard Precautions are the minimum infection prevention practices that apply to patient care, regardless of suspected or confirmed infection status of the patient, in any setting where health care is practiced. They are based on the principle that there is a possible risk of disease transmission from any patient, patient sample, or interaction with infectious material. Standard Precautions include hand hygiene and use of PPE when indicated, in addition to practices to ensure respiratory hygiene, sharps safety, safe injection practices, and effective management of sterilization and disinfection for equipment and environmental surfaces. The exact implementation of Standard Precautions should be determined by an activity-specific risk assessment.

For additional information, refer to the following:

2007 Guideline for Isolation Precautions: Preventing Transmission of Infectious Agents in Healthcare Settings

CDC Isolation Precautions

COVID-19 Overview and Infection Prevention and Control Priorities in Healthcare Settings

Q: Do we need to refrigerate samples either during storage or during the shipping process?

A: No. While refrigeration isn’t necessary, it is most important that samples are not kept in direct sunlight. The ideal environment is room temperature (between 72 and 76 degrees Fahrenheit). Regarding the shipping process, following the packaging and shipping guidelines(which does not require refrigeration) is required for secure transportation of the sample while maintaining result accuracy (See Step 4 and Appendix A of the Playbook to Stand Up Community-Based Collection Sites for more information).