That painful poke in the nose to get tested for COVID-19 won't be necessary throughout Santa Clara County starting Feb. 16. The county will offer a saliva test at multiple pop-up sites, which is less painful and quicker, county officials have announced.
The county has seen a drop in the number of people coming to be tested, Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, county COVID-19 testing and vaccine officer, told the Board of Supervisors last week. As vaccinations ramp up across Santa Clara County, public health officials said it's important to be tested since people can be asymptomatic and unknowingly spread the virus, even after being vaccinated.
Front-line workers should continue routine COVID-19 testing to protect themselves and others in the community. Current public health guidance recommends testing at least once a month and up to once every two weeks, and continued testing even after being vaccinated, county health officials said.
The saliva collection simplifies testing logistics and is less invasive, providing a faster and easier experience for residents, they said.
"This is another example of how we continue to find ways to improve our testing processes and make it more accessible for our community. Our goal is to make testing as easy and as safe as possible for our residents. If you are an essential worker or are at risk for exposure, come get tested regularly," Fenstersheib said.
The county test sites provide COVID-19 tests free of charge, regardless of immigration status, and no doctor's note is needed. For people without COVID-19 symptoms, the county currently offers indoor and drive-thru sites. People with symptoms are directed to drive-thru sites to reduce the chance of getting others sick. Anyone being tested cannot eat, drink, smoke or chew gum 30 minutes before saliva collection for accurate results, county officials noted.
Appointment-based testing continues seven days a week at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds. Rotating appointment-only city sites this upcoming week will be in Mountain View, Cupertino, Campbell, and Los Gatos.
Appointments can be made starting seven days in advance of the testing date until all slots are reserved at sccfreetest.org. Testing is also available in San Jose at the fairgrounds, with appointments now available five days in advance. Testing is free at all these sites. Appointments are necessary for reserving a testing slot.
The testing will be available in Mountain View at the Mountain View
Mountain View Center for Performing Arts, 500 Castro St. By appointment only for Tuesday, Feb. 16, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Additional locations and dates can be found at sccfreetest.org.
Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.