Coronavirus: Company Offers Free Rapid Tests in SLO County

Residents of San Luis Obispo County will soon have more options for quick and free COVID-19 testing as a central coast start-up expands operations in the county.

Based in Monterey County, Light speed test aims to have testing services in place at sites in San Luis Obispo County by early October.

Dr Ken Starr, an emergency physician and physician who runs a clinic in Arroyo Grande, is helping lead efforts to expand rapid testing services locally with Lightspeed Testing Founder and CEO Dr Sameer Bakhda.

“It has become clear with the Delta variant that COVID is not going to go away, and more vendors, restaurants and events are requiring testing or vaccination status,” Starr said. “I think it’s a good service to the community, and it’s convenient and I hope we will be bankrupt in a year.”

Starr said the coronavirus testing process is quick and easy.

“They’re literally on the test site for 45 seconds and we can see a lot of people at once due to pre-registration,” Starr said. “We will get them the results within 30 minutes. “

Company Offers Rapid COVID-19 Self-Swab Tests

To schedule a COVID-19 test through Lightspeed Testing, patients can register online at

The rapid coronavirus antigen test is completely free for patients, but those with health insurance will be asked to provide this information to Lightspeed Testing so the company can bill insurers to cover the costs.

Patients who don’t have health insurance won’t be billed, Starr explained.

According to Starr, the test itself takes less than a minute and the results will be delivered to the patient via text or email in about 30 minutes.

Previous COVID-19 tests required a healthcare professional to administer the test, which involved swabbing deep into the patient’s nostrils. The process was “a cerebral tickle, very uncomfortable and really obnoxious,” Starr said.

Today, patients can clean their noses, he said.

“I’ll give you this cotton swab. You’re just going to rub it on the front of your nose – like you are picking your nose for 15 seconds on each side – and hand it back to us, ”Starr said. “It’s super easy, completely painless and faster.”

While Lightspeed Testing offers rapid COVID-19 antigen testing for free, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing will require a copayment of around $ 150, the company said.

Tim Morrow, director of strategic development at Lightspeed Testing, said the exact price of this quota is not yet confirmed because the cost of the PCR test varies from company to company.

He said Lightspeed Testing is focusing more on providing the antigen test to the community at this time.

While the PCR test can detect genetic material – or ribonucleic acid (RNA) – that tells the virus to create proteins present on the surface of the virus, the antigen test looks for the presence of these proteins, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

In simpler terms, the PCR test looks for the genetic fingerprint of the coronavirus, while the antigen test only detects the presence of the virus, Starr explained.

The PCR test has a slightly earlier detection window, and is more sensitive and specific to the COVID-19 virus than the antigen test, Starr said.

“They’ll both tell you if anyone has an active infection,” the doctor said of the two tests. “For the purposes of our monitoring and (answering questions like) ‘Can you go to a concert? I think the antigen test – which is much cheaper and more available – will absolutely answer that question for you. “

Lightstream Testing has yet to confirm the locations, dates and times of the San Luis Obispo County final testing.

The company is in talks with public and private schools in cities across the country to provide rapid COVID-19 tests to students and employees.

“We’re making ourselves available to any schools that want it, but there are a lot of pieces for these things to happen,” Morrow said.

For more updates, visit the “Upcoming Events” section of Lightspeed Testing website at

Related Stories from San Luis Obispo Tribune

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.