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Davis, California

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Drive-through COVID-19 testing available in California

Project Baseline launched in Sacramento 

Project Baseline, founded by the company Verily and a subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, recently launched a coronavirus testing program that has — in two weeks — become available in four testing sites in California. As of March 28, more than 3,700 people had been tested for coronavirus through the program. 

According to The Covid Tracking Project, more than one million tests have been administered in the U.S. and its territories as of April 1. 

Testing became available through the Baseline COVID-19 Program on March 24 in Sacramento County. It also became recently available in Lake Elsinore City, after previously commencing operations in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, according to Project Baseline’s blog.

“Verily was asked by government agencies to contribute in any way we could to COVID-19 screening and testing efforts,” said Carolyn Wang, the communications lead at Verily, via email. “Our team has moved with great urgency to support development of the California community-based COVID-10 testing program, which is state-directed with federal input. We did this by creating the Baseline COVID-19 Program, a connected solution to support individuals from screening through testing at community-based testing sites (CBTS) and receipt of their test results.”

Many entities are involved in this project, in order to administer testing and conduct an analysis of the samples. 

“Our primary partner in this first pilot is the California Governor’s office and local Bay Area public health authorities,” Wang said via email. “We’re also partnering with federal authorities and different organizations across healthcare to access testing and lab analysis resources.”

Individuals can check to see if they are eligible to get tested through this program through the company’s website. Additionally, a guide to the testing process can be found on the company’s blog.

In order to help those who are the most vulnerable, the program will start off by testing those who are at a higher risk, as defined by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

“Our staff intends to reach back out to eligible individuals as capacity becomes available,” Wang said via email.

The testing process is multi-step. The first step of the testing program involves doing an online screener, according to a blog post by the company. Based on CDPH guidelines, this helps prioritize the need to be tested. After completing this step, people who qualify to get tested for COVID-19 through the program will get an email confirming the details of the appointment, including the time and location of testing.

The drive-through testing site consists of three stations, the first of which is called an appointment check. Individuals will have to show their ID, with the windows of their cars closed for safety. After this step, people will be able to drive up to the second station. At this station, “healthcare staff will match each individual [with] a lab kit and attach a lab requisition to the car’s windshield [and] this document helps ensure tests are processed safely and correctly.” 

At Station 3, individuals will have to roll down their car’s windows and tilt their head back so that a nasal swab can be taken. Staff at the site will then ship the samples to a lab for analysis. 

Results will be provided to individuals approximately two to five days after they have been tested — but this may be longer, depending on the capacity of the lab. If an individual tests positive, a healthcare professional will contact them. A video of the program’s testing process can be found online.

The process of fighting against coronavirus is a collective effort, Wang said.

“We’re all together in the fight against COVID-19 — researchers, public health officials, and citizens,” Wang said via email.

Written by: Shraddha Jhingan — city@theaggie.org

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