County orders hospitals to provide more COVID-19 tests

Testing remains a core facet of Santa Clara County’s ongoing fight against the spread of COVID-19. The county has launched a number of pop-up testing sites in recent weeks. However, with reopenings continuing, case numbers are on the increase in the area and hospitalizations are ticking upward.

To help in this continued ramp up of testing, County health officials Wednesday ordered hospitals and large healthcare systems to provide COVID-19 testing for any patients in a number of high-risk categories.

“Healthcare providers need to test their patients for COVID-19,” said Dr. Sara Cody, the county’s top health officer. Cody likened it to other testing hospitals already do for communicable diseases and conditions.

Healthcare systems will have to test anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, those who have been in close contact with a positive COVID-19 case, or those at higher risk of COVID-19 including transit riders or essential employees who interact with the public.

The order applies to hospitals as well as clinics and urgent care facilities connected to hospital systems.

County officials acknowledged that supply shortages have impacted testing efforts, but say those issues have been addressed. The State’s testing task force is also making efforts to reduce supply backlogs.

“As we continue to reopen activity in the community, ensuring everyone has access to testing will be critical to keep the community safe,” said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, the Santa Clara County COVID-19 Testing Officer.

The county is averaging more than 2,300 test per day in the last week across more than 45 sites.