Updated COVID-19 Guidance, Testing, & More
Happy New Year!
By now, you have probably heard that the Omicron variant is driving up COVID-19 cases here in Orange County, as well as in California and across the world. The OC Health Care Agency reports more than 4,600 COVID positive cases daily…an alarming twofold increase when compared to last year’s winter surge when many of us still did not have access to lifesaving vaccines.
To help keep you and our community safe, my team has compiled a list of resources to ensure that you have the best information about testing and vaccines so we can decrease the spread of COVID-19.
In addition, there are still a number of COVID-19 relief programs available through the State of California that are designed to get Orange County families back on their feet. My office is here to assist you in navigating the bureaucracy of these programs. If you have any questions about how to apply to a state program, or need assistance in contacting a state agency, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at 949-223-5472 or Senator.Min@senate.ca.gov.
State Senator, District 37
UPDATED GUIDANCE FROM THE CDC
How long should I isolate if I test positive for COVID-19?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that given what we currently know about COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, the recommended time for isolation for the public has been shortened to 5 days. If you are asymptomatic or symptoms are resolving (without fever for 24 hours), you should mask for the next 5 days when around others to minimize the risk of infecting those around you.
The change is motivated by science demonstrating that transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after.
STATEWIDE INDOOR MASK MANDATE
On Wednesday, the California Department of Public Health announced that Californians must wear masks indoors in public spaces and workplaces through February 15. This extends the initial mandate that was instituted on December 15, 2021.
This is the right thing to do. Omicron transmission rates have resulted in cases surging to the highest levels since the beginning of the pandemic. Let’s all do our part to mask up, and stop the spread.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
I was exposed to COVID-19, what should I do?
The CDC recommends that anyone exposed to COVID-19 should quarantine for 5 days, and wear a mask for the next 5 days after that.
When should I get tested?
Getting tested (and subsequently vaccinated) is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from the effects COVID-19. If you’re feeling unwell, or believe that you may have been exposed to an individual with COVID-19, here are some tips for whether or not you should get tested straight away:
- If you’re feeling unwell: Get tested right away
- If you’re traveling: Get tested 3 to 5 days after your return or arrival
- If you’ve been exposed to someone that has tested positive:
- You’re unvaccinated - Get tested right away
- You’re vaccinated - Get tested 3 to 5 days following exposure
Where can I go to get vaccinated?
Everyone five and older should get vaccinated. Vaccines are the best way to protect yourself from severe risk of COVID-19. If you’re already vaccinated, I strongly encourage you to get your booster shot as soon as you can. Last month, my wife Jane and I took our three kids to a local Walgreens to receive their second shots.
Boosters offer the highest protection against Omicron. Just this week, the CDC announced that Pfizer boosters are approved for kids ages 12-15. You can find a list of free vaccines near you below.
- State of California: Sign up for a vaccination appointment by enrolling at MyTurn HERE.
- County of Orange: County testing sites can be found HERE.
- Local Pharmacies: A list of pharmacies offering vaccines can be found HERE.
- Your Health Provider: Contact your personal healthcare provider such as MemorialCare, Hoag, Kaiser Permanente, Providence, and UCI Health.
Where can I get tested for COVID-19?
With testing demand at an all-time high, there are more ways than ever to secure a test for COVID-19. The most accurate and reliable test available for diagnosing COVID-19 is known as a PCR test, short for the polymerase chain reaction, a molecular test that detects the virus.
Below is a list of FREE testing sites available to the public at no cost.
- State of California: Sign up for a test by enrolling at MyTurn HERE.
- County of Orange: County testing sites can be found HERE.
- Costa Mesa: Testing at the Costa Mesa Senior Center.
- Irvine: Testing available through the City of Irvine.
- Lake Forest: Testing at Lake Forest City Hall.
- Tustin: Testing by appointment at Families Together of Orange County.
- Laguna Beach: Testing by appointment at the Laguna Beach Community Clinic.
- Local Pharmacies: Schedule a test or purchase an over the counter kit HERE.
- Contact Your Health Provider: Ask your personal healthcare provider for PCR testing options through MemorialCare, Hoag, Kaiser Permanente, Providence, or UCI Health.
Are there rapid tests available that I can take at home?
Unfortunately, the surge in COVID-19 cases has resulted in a national backlog of rapid tests. While we are acutely aware of inventory issues, help thankfully is on its way in the form of new testing appointment window bookings and expedited test manufacturing. You can order a FREE at-home, no cost nasal swab test kit by clicking HERE. Orders may be delayed 2-5 days depending on inventory over the next week to access over-the-counter rapid tests.
I’m traveling through John Wayne Airport, what should I do to stay safe?
The County of Orange and JWA partnered up to offer free testing to all travelers. The CDC recommends travelers test 3-5 days after travel, regardless of vaccination status. This is an important step and builds on Hoag’s Fly Well Clinic currently onsite. In addition to offering urgent care services and COVID-19 vaccines, this clinic is a best practice both during the pandemic era and beyond. I was honored to visit this site last year shortly after it was launched and thankful this state of the art clinic is available to all travelers making their way through John Wayne.
COVID-19 RELIEF & SUPPORT:
Housing Relief & Additional Resources
Help is here for California homeowners. To find out if you qualify for mortgage relief, visit the newly launched California Mortgage Relief Program and apply today. The $1 billion program offers up to $80,000 per household for Californians who have fallen behind on their housing payments. As a reminder, rental assistance is also still available through the California COVID-19 Rent Relief Program. Applications are being accepted to help protect your risk of eviction. Apply online or call 883-430-2122 today.
- Food Benefits: Up to $234 per person per month in food assistance via CalFresh whether you are working or not.
- Added Rental Assistance: Rental and utility assistance via Housing is Key. Get 100 percent of rent and utilities paid. Contact the Rent Relief call center: 1-833-430-2122
- Families with Kids: Californians can apply directly to the county human services agency for cash aid and services for families with children (CalWORKs), food assistance (CalFresh), and free health insurance (Medi-Cal) through BenefitsCal.org
- Health Insurance: For as low as $1 per month for workers who received unemployment benefits, through Covered California.
- Orange County 211: 211 can be accessed by phone or website. A toll-free call to 2-1-1 connects you to a community resource specialist in your area who can put you in touch with local organizations that provide critical services including crisis services, disaster response, mental health, and more.