News

Santa Clara County to open 2 new COVID-19 testing sites for vulnerable residents

Appointments limited to individuals with symptoms of new coronavirus

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.

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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.

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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.

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Santa Clara County to open 2 new COVID-19 testing sites for vulnerable residents

Appointments limited to individuals with symptoms of new coronavirus

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, May 5, 2020, 9:56 am

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.

Comments

Not Fair
Adobe-Meadow
on May 5, 2020 at 10:25 am
Not Fair, Adobe-Meadow
on May 5, 2020 at 10:25 am
7 people like this

Why so far south? San Jose and especially Gilroy are a long ways to travel for a COVID-19 test.

Palo Alto is the northernmost city in the county & there should be a county testing site situated locally to accommodate SC County residents on the midpeninsula.


Fair
Menlo Park
on May 5, 2020 at 10:07 pm
Fair, Menlo Park
on May 5, 2020 at 10:07 pm
7 people like this

Not fair? Seriously? There’s testing available at both Stanford and PAMF in Palo Alto. Southern SCC, particularly East San Jose, has been affected disproportionately compared to Northern SCC. The majority of the COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are in San Jose. "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,"


Resident
Professorville
on May 6, 2020 at 12:18 pm
Resident, Professorville
on May 6, 2020 at 12:18 pm
Like this comment

Great move in the right direction! However, even more needs to be done to protect the vulnerable population as we open up.

It almost seems like a no brainer: With COVID, 95% of deaths are focused on a predictable segment that is 15% of the population (elderly, co-morbid situations). 25%-40% of deaths are of residents in long term care facilities. Testing is critical to control spread in facilities and early detection is important because people at high risk need to be admitted to hospitals even before symptoms worsen for monitoring and interventions. (There are interventions that are expected to be much more effective if done early after onset -- for example the anti-viral Remdisivir)

Next steps: Faster than 48 hours (12-24 are doable with the PCR tests), concurrent use of the less accurate "fast" test (has 30% false negatives but provides a strong signal still), need higher capacity (more than 100+ test a day), need testing that travels to people/facilities, need to test caregivers and people that interact with vulnerable people as well.


essential workers first
South of Midtown
on May 6, 2020 at 12:50 pm
essential workers first, South of Midtown
on May 6, 2020 at 12:50 pm
6 people like this

Be realistic. The groups that are at highest risk are people in long term care facilities and "essential workers" who are still at work during the shutdown. Long term care facilities should be able to do their own testing or are targeted by other government programs. The current effort by the county is targeted at the areas where "essential workers" live. Many of these people no longer have reliable health care providers since Obamacare has been gutted. Palo Alto residents who mostly can afford to stay home and social distance and should have access to testing through their private health care providers should be low on the county's priority list.

Yes, it would be better if testing was easier for everyone and that is going to be necessary before we can lift the shutdown. Until then, targeting the highest risk areas is good public policy.


Resident
Professorville
on May 6, 2020 at 1:29 pm
Resident, Professorville
on May 6, 2020 at 1:29 pm
2 people like this

Great move in the right direction! However, even more needs to be done to protect the vulnerable population as we open up.

It almost seems like a no brainer: With COVID, 95% of deaths are focused on a predictable segment that is 15% of the population (elderly, co-morbid situations). 25%-40% of deaths are of residents in long term care facilities. Testing is critical to control spread in facilities and early detection is important because people at high risk need to be admitted to hospitals even before symptoms worsen for monitoring and interventions. (There are interventions that are expected to be much more effective if done early after onset -- for example the anti-viral Remdisivir)

Next steps: Faster than 48 hours (12-24 are doable with the PCR tests), concurrent use of the less accurate "fast" test (has 30% false negatives but provides a strong signal still), need higher capacity (more than 100+ test a day), need testing that travels to people/facilities, need to test caregivers and people that interact with vulnerable people as well.


Resident
Professorville
on May 6, 2020 at 1:39 pm
Resident, Professorville
on May 6, 2020 at 1:39 pm
Like this comment

@essential workers first

I am not an expert. It is probably naive to expect long term care facilities to provide own testing or even to pay costs for medical teams to perform regular monitoring.

As for essential workers. They are already a priority. And there is private response there, although incomplete. I was really happy to see that Amazon invested $400M in testing for its workers (and most of its profits are being used for that). But the meat industry even failed to provide PPE to workers.

The bottom line is that we need a unified government response. We can not expect every segment of industry with workers at risk and certainly not for-profit long term care centers to provide tests and medical monitoring (perhaps check temperatures...). We need to think like other countries in providing an adequate testing where it is needed most.


Resident
Palo Alto Orchards
on May 12, 2020 at 7:54 pm
Resident, Palo Alto Orchards
on May 12, 2020 at 7:54 pm
2 people like this

Is it possible for asymptotic essential workers to get tested every week?


Maurice
Old Palo Alto
on May 13, 2020 at 2:10 pm
Maurice, Old Palo Alto
on May 13, 2020 at 2:10 pm
Like this comment

I've read that certain states like Texas are offering free testing in most communities. Is this available in California?


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