California has done more than 1 million COVID-19 tests, county ramps up capacity
Collaborating with community organizations has helped Santa Clara County bring down COVID-19 rates in Latinx communities, officials say. File photo by Luke Johnson.

California has now conducted more than 1 million tests for COVID-19, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday, just as Santa Clara County leaders encouraged workers with frequent public contact to get tested.

“Ramping up our testing capacity is critical as we begin modifying our stay at home order,” Newsom said during his daily briefing. “In addition to standing up more than 80 new testing sites across the state in underserved communities, soon Californians will be able to get tested when they pick up their prescriptions at some pharmacies across the state.”

While it’s unclear whether all pharmacies will begin COVID-19 testing, the governor’s direction allows pharmacists to collect test specimens and order tests.

California is now conducting more than 35,000 tests a day, Newsom added, far exceeding his goal set in April to ramp up testing to 25,000 each day.

There are dozens of testing sites in Santa Clara County, including county hospitals, Kaiser Permanente locations, Planned Parenthood branches and community health centers. County public health officials tweeted Tuesday that employees who have “frequent contact with the public,” such as grocery store clerks, utility workers, health care employees, first responders and food supply workers, should now get tested.

The county is also recommending people who work in “high-risk congregate settings,” such as shelters, skilled nursing facilities or jails, to get tested even if they don’t have symptoms.

People who have scheduled an upcoming surgery, since the state now allows elective surgeries, or medical procedures should also get tested. The Centers for Disease Control also recently expanded some of the requirements for COVID-19 testing.

Graphic courtesy of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.

Increasing testing capacity is one of the milestones that both the state and Santa Clara County health officials are measuring to decide how quickly to ease stay-at-home orders and reopen the economy.

To find testing locations in Santa Clara County, click here. Most test sites, including two new locations in East San Jose at James Lick High School and the Police Activities League Stadium, are free and do not require health insurance.

Those without health insurance can call Santa Clara Valley Medical Center’s connection line 1-888-334-1000 and ask to speak to an advice nurse about COVID-19 necessary testing. The state also has a new “Medi-Nurse” line available for Medi-Cal patients and uninsured Californians. The number is 1-877-409-9052 and is available 24 hours a day.

Follow along with San José Spotlight’s real-time coronavirus coverage on our LIVE BLOG here.

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