News

A new COVID-19 test site is coming to Palo Alto. Here's how to access it.

Anyone can visit without an appointment

Santa Clara County's pop-up COVID-19 test site at the lobby of Palo Alto City Hall will operate June 16-19. Weekly file photo.

For the first time, Santa Clara County is opening a pop-up site in Palo Alto for free COVID-19 nasal swab tests at City Hall for four days, starting this Tuesday.

The site is open to anyone, regardless of age, city of residence or immigration status. Those seeking a test don't need an appointment, doctor's note or health insurance. Tests will be provided at the lobby of City Hall, 250 Hamilton Ave., from June 16 to June 19 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

"It's great to bring COVID-19 testing to the downtown area, so employees working in the area and our regional community at-large can get access to testing," Mayor Adrian Fine said in a press release on Monday.

The Palo Alto location will not be a drive-thru site. Patients will wait in line for a nurse to administer the nasal swab test, where specimens will be collected from each nostril, according to Santa Clara County Deputy Public Health Information Officer Ricardo Romero-Morales.

There is no defined limit to the total number of nasal-swab tests the site can provide, but the county's target goal is to perform around 500 tests per day in Palo Alto, according to Ky Le, director of Santa Clara County's Office of Supportive Housing.

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The pop-up is mainly geared towards asymptomatic individuals — those who do not show any symptoms of the coronavirus. People who do have symptoms should get tested by contacting their medical provider, Le said.

Tests will be administered and processed by the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center staff. Each test should take no more than five minutes, Le said.

Patients can choose to receive their results by phone or email, according to the June 15 city press release. Anyone who tests positive will find out by phone within 48 hours of taking a test and receive instructions on next steps.

"We won’t be sharing personal information," Romero-Morales said. "This is considered personal health information."

The Palo Alto location will be one of many temporary sites throughout Santa Clara County, providing tests in a specific community on a need-by-need basis. The four-day period should be sufficient to cover people who need tests in Palo Alto, Le said, but it's possible that "community-based teams" setting up the sites and delivering tests will return if there is a demand and more local residents need to be tested.

These sites will also help county officials determine where tests may be needed in surrounding communities. For example, if many people from San Jose are coming to the Palo Alto location, setting up a site in San Jose will be considered, Le said.

A temporary site in Palo Alto is especially timely considering the city recently hosted one of the largest mass gatherings of local residents since the shelter-in-place order began in March. On June 6, thousands of protesters, many of whom donned masks, marched against police brutality and systemic racism in reaction to the death of George Floyd while in police custody. But Le said the main reason for the site is simply to provide easy access to testing everywhere.

"I don't think it has to do with Palo Alto's protest per se," Le said. "I do think we want to provide more accessible and easy testing everywhere, especially since the protests."

Increasing testing capacity in the county continues to be a point of focus for local health officials. On Wednesday, a new county health order went into effect, mandating all major health care systems and clinics in the area to provide COVID-19 tests to three high-risk groups.

Health care systems such as the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and Stanford Health Care are now required to test patients who show symptoms of COVID-19, have been exposed to the virus or are at high-risk of exposure because they are in frequent contact with the public, such as grocery workers, or recently attended a mass gathering of more than 100 people in the past two weeks.

"With more and more people going back to work and getting out into the community, it's particularly important that folks know whether or not they are virus free," Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian said in a June 15 statement. "And frankly, our County's Public Health Officer can't make good decisions for the entire county if we don't have good data from throughout the entire county.

Palo Alto City Councilwoman Liz Kniss, a retired nurse, found the site to be a "great value" to workers in the city, she said in the release. She added that "having widespread testing is a key first step to helping the community regain peace of mind and return to a sense of normalcy."

As of Sunday, county data showed 102,848 patients in the county have been tested so far, with a positivity rate of 3.12%.

A new COVID-19 test site that will be open on Mondays through Thursdays in Mountain View was set to open on June 15. For the first week, the site will only provide tests for first responders, health care providers and essential workers. Starting the week of Monday, June 22, the clinic will provide tests for all. More information on the test site can be found here.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

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Kevin Forestieri, a staff writer for the Mountain View Voice, a sister publication of PaloAltoOnline.com, contributed to this report.

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.

A new COVID-19 test site is coming to Palo Alto. Here's how to access it.

Anyone can visit without an appointment

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Jun 11, 2020, 4:55 pm
Updated: Mon, Jun 15, 2020, 3:52 pm

For the first time, Santa Clara County is opening a pop-up site in Palo Alto for free COVID-19 nasal swab tests at City Hall for four days, starting this Tuesday.

The site is open to anyone, regardless of age, city of residence or immigration status. Those seeking a test don't need an appointment, doctor's note or health insurance. Tests will be provided at the lobby of City Hall, 250 Hamilton Ave., from June 16 to June 19 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

"It's great to bring COVID-19 testing to the downtown area, so employees working in the area and our regional community at-large can get access to testing," Mayor Adrian Fine said in a press release on Monday.

The Palo Alto location will not be a drive-thru site. Patients will wait in line for a nurse to administer the nasal swab test, where specimens will be collected from each nostril, according to Santa Clara County Deputy Public Health Information Officer Ricardo Romero-Morales.

There is no defined limit to the total number of nasal-swab tests the site can provide, but the county's target goal is to perform around 500 tests per day in Palo Alto, according to Ky Le, director of Santa Clara County's Office of Supportive Housing.

The pop-up is mainly geared towards asymptomatic individuals — those who do not show any symptoms of the coronavirus. People who do have symptoms should get tested by contacting their medical provider, Le said.

Tests will be administered and processed by the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center staff. Each test should take no more than five minutes, Le said.

Patients can choose to receive their results by phone or email, according to the June 15 city press release. Anyone who tests positive will find out by phone within 48 hours of taking a test and receive instructions on next steps.

"We won’t be sharing personal information," Romero-Morales said. "This is considered personal health information."

The Palo Alto location will be one of many temporary sites throughout Santa Clara County, providing tests in a specific community on a need-by-need basis. The four-day period should be sufficient to cover people who need tests in Palo Alto, Le said, but it's possible that "community-based teams" setting up the sites and delivering tests will return if there is a demand and more local residents need to be tested.

These sites will also help county officials determine where tests may be needed in surrounding communities. For example, if many people from San Jose are coming to the Palo Alto location, setting up a site in San Jose will be considered, Le said.

A temporary site in Palo Alto is especially timely considering the city recently hosted one of the largest mass gatherings of local residents since the shelter-in-place order began in March. On June 6, thousands of protesters, many of whom donned masks, marched against police brutality and systemic racism in reaction to the death of George Floyd while in police custody. But Le said the main reason for the site is simply to provide easy access to testing everywhere.

"I don't think it has to do with Palo Alto's protest per se," Le said. "I do think we want to provide more accessible and easy testing everywhere, especially since the protests."

Increasing testing capacity in the county continues to be a point of focus for local health officials. On Wednesday, a new county health order went into effect, mandating all major health care systems and clinics in the area to provide COVID-19 tests to three high-risk groups.

Health care systems such as the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and Stanford Health Care are now required to test patients who show symptoms of COVID-19, have been exposed to the virus or are at high-risk of exposure because they are in frequent contact with the public, such as grocery workers, or recently attended a mass gathering of more than 100 people in the past two weeks.

"With more and more people going back to work and getting out into the community, it's particularly important that folks know whether or not they are virus free," Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian said in a June 15 statement. "And frankly, our County's Public Health Officer can't make good decisions for the entire county if we don't have good data from throughout the entire county.

Palo Alto City Councilwoman Liz Kniss, a retired nurse, found the site to be a "great value" to workers in the city, she said in the release. She added that "having widespread testing is a key first step to helping the community regain peace of mind and return to a sense of normalcy."

As of Sunday, county data showed 102,848 patients in the county have been tested so far, with a positivity rate of 3.12%.

A new COVID-19 test site that will be open on Mondays through Thursdays in Mountain View was set to open on June 15. For the first week, the site will only provide tests for first responders, health care providers and essential workers. Starting the week of Monday, June 22, the clinic will provide tests for all. More information on the test site can be found here.

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

pcr test?
College Terrace
on Jun 11, 2020 at 8:41 pm
pcr test?, College Terrace
on Jun 11, 2020 at 8:41 pm
Like this comment

So for clarification, is this a pcr test to detect active infection with SARS-Co-2, rather than an antibody test that would detect current OR past infection?


Amy
Crescent Park
on Jun 11, 2020 at 9:22 pm
Amy , Crescent Park
on Jun 11, 2020 at 9:22 pm
2 people like this

It’s a nasal swab test for active Covid. Goal to identify diseas in asymptomatic people.


Palo Verde Parent
Palo Verde
on Jun 12, 2020 at 11:27 am
Palo Verde Parent, Palo Verde
on Jun 12, 2020 at 11:27 am
2 people like this

Is this the nasal swab that goes way up in back of the nose that someone in full PPE must administer or is it the one where the person does it themselves with guidance?


pa resident
Fairmeadow
on Jun 12, 2020 at 1:28 pm
pa resident, Fairmeadow
on Jun 12, 2020 at 1:28 pm
10 people like this

Lol, nope. I'll keep my data to myself thank you.


Palo Alto citizen
Greenmeadow
on Jun 12, 2020 at 11:45 pm
Palo Alto citizen, Greenmeadow
on Jun 12, 2020 at 11:45 pm
4 people like this

(Quoting someone else here:)
The benefits of being tested: none. Literally none.

The drawbacks: just getting a test has you labeled a presumed bio weapon until proven otherwise. You get imprisoned immediately. If you test positive then the government hunts down everyone you've had connections to in the last half month imprisoning them too. And even when your technically released your an outcast as people brand you a bioweapon for life.

Yeah. Think I'll just quietly chill at home for a while if I feel sick. Getting it confirmed just makes your life hell, and had the nasty side effect of making your friends and family's life hell as well.


Midtown Local
Midtown
on Jun 15, 2020 at 2:19 pm
Midtown Local, Midtown
on Jun 15, 2020 at 2:19 pm
Like this comment

I agree with Palo Verde Parent that it would be good to know whether this is the long swab or short. Since the article says it's administered by a nurse, it sounds like the long swab. A friend in San Mateo County is getting a short swab test that she administers herself. That sounds lots more attractive.

Does anyone know the relative accuracy of the tests? I saw an article that said they were the same. But it's hard to believe that folks would still be doing the long swab test if the more comfortable one is just as accurate.


Art Liberman
Barron Park
on Jun 15, 2020 at 2:47 pm
Art Liberman, Barron Park
on Jun 15, 2020 at 2:47 pm
Like this comment

No senior hour...no thanks! I'll stay home.


Tadzio
Ventura
on Jun 15, 2020 at 4:24 pm
Tadzio, Ventura
on Jun 15, 2020 at 4:24 pm
Like this comment

Is the testing done outdoors?


Testnotwantnot
Woodland Ave. area (East Palo Alto)
on Jun 15, 2020 at 8:25 pm
Testnotwantnot, Woodland Ave. area (East Palo Alto)
on Jun 15, 2020 at 8:25 pm
2 people like this

[Post removed.]


Healthcare worker
University South
on Jun 15, 2020 at 11:25 pm
Healthcare worker, University South
on Jun 15, 2020 at 11:25 pm
4 people like this

I was informed by Santa Clara county that the test is not free unless one is on a program like Medi-Cal. I called the City of Palo Alto about this last week, with a promise made that someone would call me about this by the end of the day. No one ever called. I work in an acute hospital with COVID patients, where non-symptomatic workers can not be tested. Kind of feels like we are expendable....


Rick
Charleston Meadows
on Jun 16, 2020 at 1:03 am
Rick, Charleston Meadows
on Jun 16, 2020 at 1:03 am
2 people like this

This is good. With all the recent commotion people seem to have been forgetting the global issue. COVID needs to be contained, and for now, we have to rely on local monitoring of existing cases.
Web Link
Research needs to expand.


musical
Palo Verde
on Jun 16, 2020 at 1:44 am
musical, Palo Verde
on Jun 16, 2020 at 1:44 am
Like this comment

@Rick, nice summary website. Looks like our county is stuck at 30 to 40 new confirmed cases per day for the rest of the year, pending results of relaxed restrictions plus additional testing. No indication how many tests expected at City Hall next four days. Six hours worth of 5-minute procedures is 72 per day. Our historic 3% positive rate would detect 2 new cases. Maybe several lines will work in parallel, or maybe nobody at all will show up. How many here want to become a statistic?


pa resident
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 16, 2020 at 11:16 am
pa resident, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 16, 2020 at 11:16 am
4 people like this

Just got back from the testing ... it is the SHORT swab - they wiggle the swab through both nostrils for a total of about 15-20 seconds. It's very gentle but now I wonder how effective that test will be since there are reports that the virus hides/moves deep into the nasal cavity.


pa resident
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 16, 2020 at 11:22 am
pa resident, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 16, 2020 at 11:22 am
2 people like this

Just got back from the testing ... it is the SHORT swab - they wiggle the swab through both nostrils for a total of about 15-20 seconds. It's very gentle but now I wonder how effective that test will be since there are reports that the virus hides/moves deep into the nasal cavity.

The test is conducted indoors in the lobby. There are 6-8 stations where the swabbing is performed.


parent
Professorville
on Jun 16, 2020 at 12:08 pm
parent, Professorville
on Jun 16, 2020 at 12:08 pm
Like this comment

How busy is this place? Do they have space for social distancing while waiting in line? Is the wait long?


Uh oh
Downtown North
on Jun 16, 2020 at 5:13 pm
Uh oh, Downtown North
on Jun 16, 2020 at 5:13 pm
8 people like this

Good to have more testing available. Highly recommended for the vast numbers of folks visiting University ave. restaurants this past weekend - entirely too close seating, too dense for safety - regardless of being outdoors.


Rachel
Southgate
on Jun 16, 2020 at 6:09 pm
Rachel, Southgate
on Jun 16, 2020 at 6:09 pm
Like this comment

What happens if you test positive? Who gets notified?


Douglas Moran
Barron Park
on Jun 16, 2020 at 9:15 pm
Douglas Moran, Barron Park
on Jun 16, 2020 at 9:15 pm
Like this comment

A neighbor who went there around noon said the wait was about an hour.


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