San Luis Obispo is positioning itself to have coronavirus antibody tests when they become available to California, according to County Public Health.

Unlike nasal swab tests currently available, antibody tests detect whether a person has previously had the virus that causes COVID-19. This reveals whether a person’s immune system has mounted a response to the virus — or if they are still at risk of infection.

“It will help us understand the level of protection in our community,” County Health Officer Penny Borenstein said.

With researchers still running trials, the test is not yet available commercially in the United States, according to County Public Health. However, some California residents have gained access to the test through clinical trials.

The nasal swab test currently available can only detect whether a person currently has the virus that causes COVID-19.

“We are eager to get a reliable antibody test to know if large numbers of community residents previously had the virus,” Borenstein said.

Where to get a nasal swab test

Despite tests being saved for patients in critical need in mid-March, County Public Health is encouraging residents showing even mild symptoms of COVID-19 to get tested immediately.

Symptoms of coronavirus include fever, cough and shortness of breath, Borenstein said.

The county encourages residents to call their primary care provider about testing before visiting an urgent care provider. In the City of San Luis Obispo, testing is available at Med Stop Urgent Care and Family & Industrial Medical Center.

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