Health Care Providers May Face Fines in Santa Clara County Over COVID Testing

Data shows Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health are not testing enough of their patients

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Santa Clara County is formally warning the area's big health care providers to handle more local COVID-19 testing for patients or face steep fines.

Data shows the county is carrying out far more testing than large health care providers, partially explaining the massive backup at county testing sites:

  • Santa Clara County sees 15% of patients in the region, but in the last six months it handled more than 20% of the testing.
  • Kaiser sees 31% of patients in Santa Clara County, but provided over 12% of testing.
  • The Palo Alto Medical Foundation, or Sutter Health, sees more than 16% of county patients, but provided about 2% of all COVID testing.
Santa Clara County public health officials on Friday provided updates on COVID-19 testing priorities amid limited testing availability.

There are similar disparities in vaccinations with the county carrying the majority of the load.

"It is not reasonable for the county health system to provide such a disproportionate share of testing and vaccinations," Santa Clara County Counsel James Williams said.

Now the county counsel is threatening to enforce the health order requiring providers to test and vaccinate their own patients or face sweep fines.

"This is a health order. We have in the past taken enforcement action with respect to the testing order and we're prepared to do it again," Williams said.

Both the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (Sutter Health) and Kaiser Permanente told NBC Bay Area they are trying, but are suffering from the same staffing shortages and overwhelming demand the county is seeing.

To make sure that is the case, Santa Clara County is now asking Kaiser and Sutter Health patients having trouble getting tests or vaccines through their providers to file a complaint at

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