As California continues to struggle with the new surge in COVID cases, the state is changing tactics when it comes to testing.
State health leaders are no longer encouraging everyone who wants a test to get one. Instead, they want to prioritize who receives a test with the idea to speed up result turn-around times.
But Santa Clara County Public Health doesn’t seem to be following the new recommendations, causing some confusion.
At a pop-up testing site in San Jose, more than 800 people showed up to get a COVID-19 test Tuesday.
People lined up in the early morning and received a wristband to come back at a specific time slot. They’re lucky because all the wristbands were handed out by 10:15 a.m.
While the people tested are expected to find out their results in about a week or less, the wait is double that in other parts of the county and state, making contact tracing and outbreak detection challenging.
That’s why state health leaders have issued new guidelines for who should be tested.
“Are we at the point where everybody who wants a test gets one? Not today,” said Dr. Gil Chavez, co-chair of the California Testing Task Force. “We need to prioritize for public health purposes.”
According to state public health, those with symptoms, essential workers, first responders and those possibly exposed to a person with COVID should be the first to get a test.
But Santa Clara County Public Health has not changed its guidelines in effect since May and says its pop-up testing sites are open to everyone, not just those the state considers a top priority.
“We don't ask why they are here getting COVID testing,” said testing site manager Melissa Chiochios.