As more contagious strains spread, experts urge residents to get tested frequently and adhere to public health guidelines
On Jan. 12, an additional OptumServe mobile testing site opened in Yolo County for the entirety of January, making it easier for residents to get tested, according to a press release. The OptumServe testing sites are free for all California residents regardless of their age or documentation status. For those without health insurance, the state will cover the cost—otherwise, the provider will be charged, with no out-of-pocket costs for the resident.
The additional testing site was shared between Winters and West Sacramento.
Spokesperson for OptumServe Aaron Albright explained the process of scheduling an appointment to get tested at the 125 sites available in California.
“People who are interested in getting tested can schedule an appointment via our scheduling website,” Albright said via email. “There, you will set up an account and have to answer some demographic questions and health insurance information, if you have coverage. Insurance coverage is not necessary, though. Once you see your patient ID number, I advise people to write it down or print it out just in case.”
Once an appointment has been scheduled, a reminder will be sent out, and once the results have been received, a text or email will be sent out instructing those who have been tested to access their lhi.care account.
In addition to the OptumServe testing site, there are also several other testing locations in Yolo County, including the on-campus testing option at the UC Davis Activities and Recreation Center (ARC), which is open seven days a week.
Medical Director at UC Davis Student Health and Counseling Services Cindy Schorzman explained the decision to provide testing all throughout the week.
“We decided to do testing 7 days per week to allow for hours to help better meet the needs of our campus community, including individuals who work and study on campus on the weekends,” Schorzman said via email. “We also have testing scheduled 7 days per week to increase our testing capacity to meet the needs of our employees and students.”
Professor at UC Davis and Director of the Genome Centre Professor Richard Michelmore explained that the university has started to encourage students to get tested more frequently.
“The testing efforts have been ramping up well,” Michelmore said via email. “We are now encouraging students to get tested twice per week for maximum epidemiological impact in slowing the pandemic.”
Michelmore noted, however, that testing is not a standalone solution for preventing the spread of the virus. In addition, he encouraged residents to social distance, avoid gatherings with large groups and wear masks—particularly since more contagious variants are spreading to Northern California.
“It is also important to keep being tested after vaccination,” Michelmore said via email. “The efficacy data for vaccines was generated on the decrease in the number of people exhibiting symptoms. Nucleic acid tests were not performed. It is not known whether vaccinated individuals can become infected and be asymptomatic and infectious.”
Yolo County is also providing weblinks for the general public and healthcare workers in Tiers 2 and 3 of Phase 1A to register for vaccine clinics and get notifications and information.
Yolo County Public Information Officer Jenny Tan explained that although there are many testing sites available locally, testing overall has decreased as people stop traveling.
“Residents have been continuing to take advantage of the testing that the County has made available,” Tan said. “We have a lot of different opportunities where people can get tested. Some of our testing has gone down a little bit. Not as many residents have been using testing compared to during the holidays, which is to be assumed because they’re not traveling.”
Tan recommended, however, that residents still get tested in order to track the spread of the virus and infections. The testing positivity rate has decreased in Yolo County, according to Tan, although this is not a replacement for adhering to health and safety guidelines.
“Our testing positivity rate did go down, but we are still having a lot of positive cases,” Tan said. “I believe [on Jan. 18] we had like over a hundred positive cases, so there is still a lot of spread that’s happening in our community. We don’t want people to let their guard down just because our testing positivity rate has gone down.”
Schorzman said via email that “[…] students are overall doing a great job with adherence to public health measures,” which is increasingly important with the spread of more contagious strains. She expressed hope that things will eventually return to normal when vaccines become more widely distributed.
“We are looking forward to increased vaccine availability and the hope of returning to more in-person activities and interaction,” Schorzman said via email. “Until then, please continue to look out for yourselves and each other.”
Written by: Shraddha Jhingan — firstname.lastname@example.org