When and where should you get a COVID test? Santa Clara County issues new guidance

As daily coronavirus cases soar and tests remain in short supply, Santa Clara County health officials on Friday issued new guidance on when and where residents should seek a COVID-19 test and what kind of test they should use.

For starters, county officials emphasized that patients of private health care providers like Kaiser Permanente or Palo Alto Medical Foundation should get tested through their providers, rather than the county public health department, when necessary.

A county health order has been in place since September 2020 requiring that large healthcare providers have tests available for patients who are either symptomatic or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 within 24 hours of inquiring. However, some patients are reporting that testing appointments aren’t available through their providers for more than a week.

Santa Clara County Counsel James Williams said that his department is prepared to start issuing fines to private providers who do not step up, asking patients to report their challenges obtaining tests to scccovidconcerns.org.

“The data is pretty clear that the large systems are not proportionately providing the testing,” Williams said during a news briefing Friday, “but we really need individual information from folks who are having challenges.”

According to the county data, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department typically serve about 15% of the county’s residents but has been conducting more than 20% of the COVID tests countywide. Comparatively, Kaiser, which serves about 30% of the county’s population, has conducted 12% of tests and Palo Alto Medical Foundation, which serves 16.5% of residents, is only performing 2.4% of tests, Williams said.

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A spokesperson for Sutter Health, which Palo Alto Medical Foundation is a part of, said in a written statement Friday that the provider had doubled its testing capacity over the past three weeks to try and meet the increased demand but acknowledged that appointments were still limited.

“We really do need all of the large healthcare systems in the county to do their part so the burden isn’t solely on the county,” Williams said.

Santa Clara County is not the only public health department escalating matters after nearly two years of frustration over shouldering a disproportionate share of coronavirus testing and vaccination efforts.

San Francisco public health officials earlier this week demanded that its private health care providers submit weekly proof  that they are providing testing appointments within 24 hours and results within 48 hours for 90% of their patients who have symptoms or who were exposed to a someone with the virus. San Francisco’s order applies to urgent care clinics, offices acute care hospitals and medical groups with at least 100 doctors, nurses or other medical staff.

“It’s not about punishments, it’s about doing their part,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed said during a Jan. 11 news briefing.

In Alameda County, public health officials are also urging those with medical insurance contact their doctor or healthcare provider for testing before turning to county clinics.

“We call for support and expansion from pharmacies, private providers or labs, doctors’ offices, and health care systems …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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