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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the
Health Officer Order Requiring Testing by Larger Healthcare Systems

What does this order mean for hospitals and their clinics? 

It means that when one of their patients has COVID-19 symptoms, is a contact with someone with COVID-19, or is at higher risk for exposure to COVID-19 as defined in the Order, the hospital or clinic is required to provide that patient with a COVID-19 test. 

Who will hospital and clinics be required to test? 

  1. All of their patients with COVID-19 symptoms; 
  2. All of their patients who are contacts with a person who tested positive for COVID-19; and 
  3. All of their patients at high risk of exposure to COVID-19 because they work in settings where social distancing isn’t always possible, frequently or routinely ride mass transit, or have recently attended a mass gathering within the prior fourteen (14) days.  

What constitutes a contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19? 

You are considered a contact to a person who tested positive for COVID-19 if you were within six (6) feet of that individual for at least fifteen (15) minutes. 

How should hospitals and clinics confirm that an individual is a contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19 or is at high risk of exposure to COVID-19? 

Hospitals and clinics should rely on information provided by the patient and should not require verification that an individual is a contact to a COVID-19 case, works in a high-risk setting, regularly rides mass transit, or recently attended a mass gathering. 

Can I go to an emergency room for a COVID-19 test? 

No one should go to an emergency room unless they require emergency care.  No one should go to an emergency room solely to obtain a COVID-19 test.  If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you should contact your doctor to seek treatment and obtain a COVID-19 test.  And if you are experiencing a medical emergency, you should seek treatment at an emergency room. 

Can I get a test at a Kaiser facility if I’m not a Kaiser member? 

The order does not require Kaiser to provide testing to non-Kaiser members in its clinics.  However, Kaiser will be required to provide COVID-19 testing to anyone receiving care in its facilities (including urgent care clinics or emergency rooms) who has COVID-19 symptoms, is a contact with someone with COVID-19, or is at a high-risk of exposure to COVID-19 as defined by the Order. 

I go to Palo Alto Medical Foundation for care. Will I be able to get tested if I am at higher risk? 

Yes, if you work in a high-risk setting where you have contact with many members of the public (first responder, grocery store worker, pharmacy clerk, etc.), you frequently or routinely travel by mass transit, or attended a mass gathering of at least 100 individuals in the last two weeks, and you are a patient of Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF), PAMF is required to provide you a COVID-19 test if you request one. 

I go to a Stanford clinic for my care. Will they test me if I have no symptoms but work aa grocery store clerk? 

Yes.  Because you are at a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 based on your occupation, Stanford is required to provide you a COVID-19 test if you request one.   

How can I find a testing site if I don’t have insurance? 

There are many places in the County where people without insurance can get a free COVID-19 test.  Information on these testing sites is available at  

I’m having symptoms of COVID-19. Where should I go? 

Contact your primary care provider to arrange for testing and directions on what to do.  If you need emergency care, go to the nearest hospital emergency room. 

Will I still have to make an appointment to be tested? 

Contact your primary care provider to arrange for testing.  Generally, you will not be required to schedule an appointment with your doctor prior to being tested for COVID-19 if you are in one of the three groups who must be tested under the Order. 

Will all hospitals provide COVID-19 testing? 

Yes.  The Order requires hospitals and their clinics to provide COVID-19 testing to anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, anyone who is a contact to a person who tested positive for COVID-19, and anyone at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19.  However, no one should go to a hospital to be tested for COVID-19 unless they need emergency care.   

Does this Order require large healthcare systems to test me for COVID-19 antibodies? 

No.  This Order only requires diagnostic testing for COVID-19 to determine whether certain categories of patients currently have COVID-19.  It does not apply to antibody testing. 

What should I do if I qualify for a COVID-19 test under this Order but my healthcare provider refuses to provide me with the test? 

If you believe that a large healthcare system is not complying with the terms of the Order, you should first file a complaint or raise a concern with the designated management or patient care contact at your healthcare provider.  As a reminder, this Order only applies to hospitals, and clinics associated with healthcare systems that also own or operate a hospital.  If your healthcare provider does not provide an adequate response, please contact the District Attorney’s Office at ​

Last updated: 6/10/2020 9:07 PM