COVID-19 Lab Advisory

March 11, 2020

With commercial laboratories becoming available to conduct testing for COVID-19, Sacramento County Public Health (SCPH) is focusing its limited testing resources on the at-risk population (see prioritization matrix below). Health care providers will no longer be required to call SCPH to obtain approval for testing. Please follow the latest CDC guidelines for determining if COVID-19 testing should be done.

Actions requested of all clinicians with patients suspected of having COVID-19 infection:

  1. Collect respiratory specimens: nasopharyngeal(NP) and oropharyngeal swabs (OP). Also collect bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) and sputum, if possible.
    *Note: NP and OP specimens can be placed into one viral transport medium. See COVID-19 Coronavirus Specimen Collection and Laboratory Guidance.
  2. Order respiratory panels for suspect COVID-19 patients.
  3. Send specimens for Tier 1 patientswith relevant submittal form to SCPHL. Also complete the form below and fax to (916) 854-8941 or email to A PUI number will be assigned by SCPH.
  4. Send specimens for Tier 2 and 3 to commercial laboratories. A PUI number is NOTrequired for commercial laboratory testing.
  5. Report all positive cases to SCPH by phone at (916) 875-5881 AND electronically via CalREDIE or confidential fax at (916) 854- 9709.


Tier 1

  • Patients who are hospitalized or severely ill, regardless of age or comorbidities
  • Healthcare workers , including emergency medical services (EMS) and other first responders
  • Individuals residing in congregate living facilities (e.g. jails, shelters, long-term care facilities)

Tier 2

  • Persons 60 and older with comorbidities, especially those with cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, chronic respiratory disease, hypertension, and cancer

Tier 3

  • All other patients not included in Tier 1 or Tier 2


Laboratory Testing

  • Results from SCPHL should be available within 1 to 3 business days (Monday-Friday).
  • Quest Diagnostics is now available to conduct testing for COVID-19. See Quest Diagnostics COVID-19 website for more information:


  1. Evaluating and Testing PUI (CDC):
  2. SCPHL:

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