Santa Clara County Orders Health Systems To Amplify Coronavirus Testing

FORT WORTH, TEXAS - JUNE 09: Doping Control Officer Deke Gunsolley displays a swab as he explains the coronavirus testing process at a mobile testing unit prior to the Charles Schwab Challenge on June 09, 2020 in Fort Worth, Texas.
Photo credit Tom Pennington/Getty Images
By KCBS All News 106.9FM and 740AM

Santa Clara County officials don’t believe local hospitals have done enough to boost COVID-19 testing in the region, so now they’re making it mandatory.

Under a new order released Wednesday, large health systems in the county will be required to test a broad range of patients. That includes those with symptoms, anyone with close contact to someone who tested positive for the virus and those without symptoms, but who have jobs that put them into contact with a lot of people.

It’s an effort to get Santa Clara County closer to its 4,000 test per day goal.

Dr. Fenstersheib is leading the effort to boost testing. He believes the county will not hit its goal without help from county-leading institutions like Stanford and Kaiser.

"They’re just not doing it to the level we really need in this county to be able to move forward and not see the hospital beds still up and ICUs still up to back a really, really effective containment strategy," Dr. Fenstersheib said.

The county is recommending anyone who attended recent protests to get tested three to five days after possible exposure, even if you don’t have symptoms.

"Just as we expect all health care providers to test their patients for other communicable diseases and conditions that put their health at risk, healthcare providers need to test their patients for COVID-19," Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said in a release. "Many healthcare providers have already stepped up to meet this expectation, and we are grateful for their partnership as we all work to reduce severe illness and death from COVID-19."

Over the past seven days, county health officials said between 850 and 3,500 tests have been administered per day in the county, with an average of 2,354 tests per day.

That’s 120 tests per 100,000 residents.

In response to the story, both Stanford and Kaiser released the following statements to KCBS Radio:

Dr. Christina Kong, Medical Director and Chief of Pathology Service at Stanford Health Care"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."
Kaiser Permanente"Kaiser Permanente recognizes the essential role testing serves in successfully suppressing the COVID-19 pandemic. We were one of the first health care providers to offer COVID-19 testing starting in early March and continue to increase our capacity to expand testing to broader groups. Kaiser Permanente is in compliance with today’s order by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department. In addition to testing all patients with COVID-19 symptoms, we also provide testing on an individual basis to those without symptoms. More than half of the tests we provide are for asymptomatic individuals, including: first responders, health care workers and others in occupations at high risk for exposure and/or have been exposed; people at high risk due to age or certain medical conditions; residents and employees of congregate living facilities; and Kaiser Permanente patients prior to surgeries and certain procedures. We will continue to work with state and local public health officials to suppress the spread of COVID-19. By ramping up COVID-19 diagnostic testing in Northern California, we are providing the level of testing that’s necessary to help reopen the state, support our members, and contain the spread of the virus."

Watch the county's announcement below.