Contra Costa County Requires Local Health Providers to Expand COVID-19 Testing
Thursday, September 24, 2020
Private healthcare facilities in Contra Costa County must provide timely COVID-19 tests to essential workers, those with symptoms and those exposed to the virus, according to a new health order released today by Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS).
CCHS also sent a formal request to large providers serving the county, including Kaiser Permanente, John Muir Health, Sutter Health and San Ramon Regional Medical Center, to voluntarily adopt policies allowing anyone who asks to get a fast COVID-19 test, whether or not they have symptoms.
The health order, which takes effect October 8, reflects the growing, urgent need to test more people every day who live and work in Contra Costa County for COVID-19. CCHS urges county residents who want COVID-19 tests to contact their health providers about how to arrange them.
To increase early detection of COVID-19 cases and reduce the spread of the virus in the community, CCHS recommends that everyone who lives or works in the county consider a COVID-19 test whether or not they have symptoms or contact with a sick person. Essential workers in jobs with high contact with the public, like store clerks, wait staff, teachers, assisted living staff, among others, should consider getting tested every 30 days.
"Getting a test matters, even if you feel well, because about 40 percent of people who test positive for the virus never develop clear symptoms," said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County Health Officer. "To protect yourself, your loved ones and your community, please consider getting tested regularly. It's the only way to truly know if you are COVID-free."
County residents should also consider a test whenever they feel sick, especially with symptoms such as fever, cough or chest congestion, and whenever they think they may have had contact with a sick person – especially if that person has tested positive for COVID-19.
Increased community testing is also key to reopening businesses and community activities more quickly in Contra Costa County. California's Blueprint for a Safer Economy lowers the criteria for reopening in counties that test many people every day. Contra Costa does not yet qualify for this benefit.
About 2,300 people get tested every day in Contra Costa, including tests performed at public testing sites and other sources, including private health providers. The county's goal is to test about 4,500 people daily.
About 20 percent of all patients tested at Contra Costa's 12 public community testing sites have commercial health insurance that would cover the cost of tests through their usual medical provider. Many report they were denied tests by their providers because they did not have symptoms, or because an evaluation from their primary care physician was required before they could get a test.
Beginning Oct. 8, the new health order requires all healthcare facilities in the county to provide prompt testing upon request to members who are:
- Essential workers, as defined by state and local health orders to include teachers, grocery store clerks, restaurant employees, health care workers, bus drivers, as well as others
- People who have symptoms of COVID-19
- People who have had close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case
- People identified by CCHS as needing priority testing, such as possible contacts identified through contact tracing
The order requires facilities to provide testing to members identifying themselves as essential workers upon request, without a doctor's note.
Anyone who wants a fast, free and convenient COVID-19 test can get one at a community testing site near them. Same-day appointments are often available – hit the testing button at cchealth.org/coronavirus or call 1-844-421-0804.
Learn more about Contra Costa's community testing program at coronavirus.cchealth.org/get-tested.
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