Pharmacists Granted Authority to Order, Administer COVID-19 Tests in California


Governor Gavin Newsom granted California’s 47,000 pharmacists the ability to order and administer coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) tests throughout the state.

On Tuesday, May 12, Governor Gavin Newsom granted California’s 47,000 pharmacists the ability to order and administer coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) tests throughout the state. His current objective is to test 60,000 California residents per day. After receiving a request for this expanded authority for pharmacists from the California Pharmacists Association, Newsom recognized that granting pharmacists the ability to test in the state would make that objective possible.1

The State of California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) stipulated in their guideline for pharmacists that was released on Tuesday that pharmacists have the authority to act as laboratory testing personnel for COVID-19 tests only if the laboratory is appropriately licensed or registered, and only under the direction of a laboratory director.1

However, the guideline added that pharmacists will be able to administer tests without coordination with the patient’s primary care provider or diagnosing prescriber, which will make the testing process far faster.1

Due to the accessibility of pharmacists for people throughout the country, pharmacists are uniquely able to reach thousands of Californians who have been quarantining for the past couple months.2

“An estimated 90% of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy, and a pharmacy is often the first place people go to with their healthcare questions. In rural and underserved communities, pharmacists are often the only healthcare provider that is immediately accessible to patients. Whether it is managing medication, counseling patients, identifying therapies and alternatives, immunizing, or compounding drugs that are in short supply, pharmacists and pharmacy personnel are on the front lines serving their communities now, more than ever, and helping us all cope with this pandemic. This new authority builds on the inherent trust that has existed between patients and their pharmacists since the inception of the profession,” said Ken Thai, PharmD, President, California Pharmacists Association, in a press release.2

Thai explained further that with this new authority for pharmacists, people will feel far more comfortable traveling to their local pharmacy to have a COVID-19 test administered due to their already established relationships with their local pharmacists.2

According to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), there are 2 types of COVID-19 tests available that a pharmacist can use as laboratory testing personnel. These are serological (antibody) tests and molecular (RNA) tests. The FDA has published a list of current COVID-19 tests receiving FDA Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) that pharmacists can use.1

This approval from Newsom makes California the 32nd state in the country to give pharmacists the authority to order and administer COVID-19 tests. Due to this authority, pharmacists will now be able to provide the services necessary to meet the current public health challenge that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented in the country.2


  • State of California Department of Consumer Affairs. Important Information for California State Board of Pharmacy Licensees Related to Covid-19 Testing. Department of Consumer Affairs website. Published May 12, 2020. Accessed May 13, 2020.
  • Pharmacists Granted Authority to Order and Administer COVID-19 Tests [News Release]. Sacramento, CA: The California Pharmacists Association; May 12, 2020. Accessed May 13, 2020.

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