The Fire Service Center of east San Jose's James Lick High School was once home to an array of educational programs for aspiring firefighters and first responders. Now, it'll be one of two COVID-19 testing sites in Santa Clara County aimed to serve the most vulnerable individuals in the community.
At a Monday press conference outside of James Lick, county officials revealed that James Lick High School and Christopher High School in Gilroy will provide symptomatic patients with free diagnostic swab tests for COVID-19. The two sites are slated to open as early as Wednesday, May 6.
"The point here is that the county of Santa Clara wants to make sure that the most underserved communities in the county are served through this process," Deputy County Executive David Campos said.
Each site will be able to test 132 people per day on an appointment basis only, according to Cindy Chavez, county Board of Supervisors president. Part of that number is due to the logistics of testing.
According to Marco Vicente Menéndez, James Lick's new principal who offered the school's facility as a testing site, he was told each swab test can take up to 10 to 15 minutes per person. The nearly 2,000-square-foot classroom where tests will be performed will be limited to two staff members and two patients at any given time, he said. The site hours will be from 7 a.m. to noon and 1 to 7 p.m.
Test results will be turned around in 48 hours, Campos said.
Chavez said at the May 4 press conference that the online questionnaire where people can make testing appointments will prioritize those who are in skilled-nursing facilities, symptomatic individuals and asymptomatic first responders.
Jacky Franco, a resident leader at the community group East San Jose Peace Partnership, said at the press conference that individuals who do not have health insurance or legal U.S. citizenship will not be turned down. However, tests will still be limited to those who have symptoms of COVID-19.
"What we're hoping happens is that we have enough tests available that we can test people who are both symptomatic and asymptomatic," Chavez said.
It's unclear whether the two testing sites will be open to all residents of Santa Clara County; however, Campos said the James Lick site aims to serve anyone "of this neighborhood." The questionnaire also requests a mailing address and a date of birth, which must match the patient's identification when presented at the site.
Swab tests will be provided through a public-private partnership between the state and OptumServe, the federal health services arm of Optum, according to the company's website.
The two new sites are also part of a larger effort to open 80 testing sites throughout the state, which Gov. Newsom announced on April 22.
To make an appointment at the two testing sites, visit sccgov.org or call 888-634-1123.
Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.