County pushes to expand testing access

As part of the ongoing effort to maintain and expand robust COVID-19 testing, county health leaders called on healthcare providers to step up more.

The state’s new tier system rewards counties that perform high levels of testing.

The county has required healthcare providers to do large scale testing, but leaders asked them Wednesday to do more. New orders require Kaiser, HCA Healthcare, Sutter Palo Alto, and private hospitals to increase testing access or face fines.

“Additional testing is imperative for our community to effectively respond to COVID-19, and we can only get there as a community if our large healthcare providers do their part too,” said County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody.

According to the county, health systems have been doing thousands of tests per week. But, county health systems have done significantly more in recent weeks. Between August 31 and September 6, County Health processed 13,072 COVID tests. The next highest, Kaiser, processed 4,261.

“We have been forced to take additional measures,” said County Counsel James R. Williams regarding compliance threats.

Large healthcare providers are required to provide testing to symptomatic people, those potentially exposed, and all essential workers.

Elected officials from local jurisdictions and county supervisors joined the county staff in making the pronouncement.

“This is the pathway to success in Santa Clara County,” Board of Supervisors President Cindy Chavez said.