Santa Clara County Requires Large Health Care Providers to Offer More Virus Testing

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With Santa Clara County not meeting its COVID-19 testing goals, the county health officer on Wednesday issued a new order mandating that large health care providers offer more tests.

The order, which will go into effect Monday, requires large health care systems to offer tests to patients with symptoms, those who have had close contact with confirmed cases and those with a high rate of exposure, such as grocery store workers. 

Santa Clara County COVID-19 Testing Officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib said those systems include Kaiser, Stanford and Palo Alto Medical Foundation.

“Where we really have seen the numbers not coming up to meeting what we really feel is necessary so that we can meet our goals is testing by our large health care systems,” Fenstersheib said.

Santa Clara County is calling on healthcare providers to help meet its goal of testing 4,000 people a day. A new health order starting Monday requires those providers to offer testing for people with symptoms of COVID-19, along with people who’ve knowingly been exposed. It also includes essential workers in contact with the public.

Fenstersheib added that the county can’t be tasked with doing most of the testing. It’s time for hospitals to do more.

“They're just not doing them to the level that we really need in this county to be able to move forward and not see the hospital beds fill up,” he said.

There are now 46 testing sites in the county, but the county is still only averaging about 2,400 tests per day, which is just over half of its goal of 4,000.

Some hospitals have complained that they have had challenges getting the chemicals needed to perform the tests, but the state is stepping in to help with that.

NBC Bay Area received the following statement from Stanford Health late Wednesday night.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Stanford Medicine has been committed to supporting COVID-19 testing for the greater Bay Area community and to date has partnered with medical facilities across 14 northern California counties. Within days of our COVID-19 test receiving FDA permission for testing, we made it available to other medical facilities who lacked access to timely testing. As these facilities developed their own COVID-19 testing, we shifted to providing COVID-19 testing to community health clinics, health care workers, first responders, essential workers, and congregate living facilities. The COVID-19 Guide for First Responders and Essential Workers app was created to facilitate access to testing. We are also actively working with several skilled nursing facilities in Santa Clara County to provide surveillance testing as recommended by the county. These facilities reached out to us through the intake form on our COVID-19 testing website:

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