Coronavirus testing numbers to become clearer in Silicon Valley, statewide
Local leaders are spearheading a drive for medical supplies for Santa Clara County nurses amid the coronavirus outbreak. Photo courtesy of Supervisor Cindy Chavez's office.

Santa Clara County residents — and Californians across the state — are set to get more information about coronavirus testing, a key piece of information needed to understand the contagious disease’s spread.

Seven Bay Area jurisdictions, including Santa Clara County, announced a new order Tuesday that will increase reporting requirements for private labs doing patient testing across the Bay Area, including those in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties as well as the city of Berkeley.

The order, which goes into effect Wednesday, mandates those labs to report results of all coronavirus tests to health officials. Previously, only positive tests were required to be reported, leaving the region and the state with little data about how much of the community had been tested.

“This order will ensure public health officials regionally and across the state have access to the information we need to understand, predict and combat the spread of COVID-19,” Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County’s health officer, said in a statement.

Santa Clara County’s public lab has been limited to 100 tests per day, Cody said, and had done only 1,044 tests on 647 people since the end of the February.

But other private labs have been testing throughout the county and the state. The question is how many tests have they done?

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday similar measures to get data from private labs were being taken statewide, saying Wednesday would mark a “significant jump” in overall testing numbers released publicly.

“We have brought together all of these one-off collection sites and all of the hospitals, research universities that are participating as well as the private labs will have a new process to collect those numbers in real time to bring to light more comforting numbers on this scale,” he said during a livestream Tuesday.

The caveat? “The testing is still not close to where we need to be,” Newsom said.

With 930 reported cases and 19 deaths, the Bay Area accounts for more than half of California’s COVID-19 cases, officials said in the order announcement Tuesday.

A total of 16 people have died in Santa Clara County alone, three of those deaths reported on Tuesday. Meanwhile, 375 have been confirmed to have the virus in the county as of Tuesday.

Statewide, California had 2,102 confirmed cases, with 40 reported deaths, including one teenager, Newsom said Tuesday.

The governor appealed to young residents to take the virus seriously as he talked about the teen who had died due to the virus. So far, half of the confirmed cases in the state are people between the ages of 18 and 49, he added.

“This disease impacts everybody,” Newsom said. “The question is the acquity and hospitalization rates, that yes, does skew on the side of older populations, but now with this tragic death, it’s a reminder to everybody to take this seriously.”

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

Contact Janice Bitters at janice@sanjosespotlight.com or follow @JaniceBitters on Twitter.

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