California expands COVID-19 testing to reduce higher deaths, especially among underserved communities
Yolo County now includes state testing for COVID-19 as of May 5, according to a press release. The decision to open new testing sites came after Gov. Gavin Newsom made an announcement regarding making “more than 80 community testing sites across the state focused on underserved communities.”
Community testing is available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. One testing site, in Woodland, will be operational May 5 to May 30 and the second site, in West Sacramento, will be operational June 2 to June 20.
Jenny Tan, the public information officer at Yolo County’s Public Information Office, discussed the impact that the testing has had so far in Yolo County.
“Last week was the first week that COVID-19 testing was available through the state (OptumServe) and more than 500 people were tested; averaging about 100 people a day,” Tan said via email.
No test results, however, have been received yet, as of May 11, Tan said.
“There may be a delay as the amount of testing ramped up considerably in California last week,” Tan said via email.
According to the press release from Yolo County, testing can only be booked through an appointment by calling the number stated on the press release or through an online application.
Up to 135 people are able to get tested daily by OptumServe, and the results of the tests will be available within 48 to 72 hours, according to the press release.
The testing is not antibody testing, it only tests whether an individual has COVID-19.
“This is not drive-thru so people will need to park and then walk to the building (at the Yolo County Fairgrounds in Woodland),” Tan said via email. “People will also need to wear a face covering.”
Those who have medical insurance will have the cost of the test billed to their medical insurance company, and those without medical insurance will have to pay for the test.
The 80 testing sites — such as the one in Yolo County — were “provided by the State of California Testing Task Force in conjunction with OptumServe,” according to the press release. To decide where these testing sites would be located, the State of California examined urban and rural areas in which residents would have to travel between half an hour to one hour in order to reach a hospital or an existing COVID-19 testing sites.
“That information was then evaluated based on underserved populations, to address known disparities, and median income, so residents have access to testing regardless of socioeconomic status,” the press release read.
In addition to working with OptumServe to create 80 new testing sites, the state will also be “contracting with Verily […], in partnership with Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE) and with support from Rockefeller Foundation and an anonymous donor, to establish six new community testing sites focused on underserved communities such as farmworkers and communities of color,” according to an announcement from Newsom.
“We know that communities of color are disproportionately affected by COVID-19,” Newsom said. “We must ensure that we are deploying testing equitably in an effort to reduce the higher death rates we are seeing in African American and Latino communities.”
Tan also noted that to mitigate an incline in coronavirus cases, people need to continue following social distance guidelines and wearing facial coverings.
“I think as businesses start to reopen and activities resume that people need to practice social distancing and wear a face covering,” Tan said via email. “One does not substitute the other. Also remembering that you can still get other people sick if you are not showing symptoms and that it is in the best interest of everyone’s health to still stay home as much as possible.”
Written by: Shraddha Jhingan — firstname.lastname@example.org