Santa Clara County, CA – County of Santa Clara Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody today issued a new health order requiring all large healthcare systems in Santa Clara County offer COVID-19 testing to patients within their systems who need to be tested right away because they have COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19, or who need to be tested frequently because they are at higher risk of exposure. Many of these large healthcare systems are already making testing available to these patients, but all large healthcare systems in the county need to provide this level of care to their patients.
“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,” said Dr. Sara Cody. “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.”
Under the order, larger healthcare systems will be required to test the following categories of patients:
- All patients with COVID-19 symptoms;
- All patients who have had close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19; and
- All patients at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 because they work in front-line settings, regularly ride mass transit, or have recently attended a mass gathering.
Healthcare providers covered by the order include all acute care hospitals, and all clinics and urgent care facilities operated by organizations that run an acute care hospital in the county or elsewhere. Clinics and hospitals included are those operated by: the County of Santa Clara Health and Hospital System, El Camino Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital, Kaiser Permanente, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Regional Medical Center, and Stanford Healthcare. Several of these entities are already offering testing to everyone in these groups.
Although testing supply shortages have hampered efforts to ramp up testing in some systems, most supply issues are now being addressed, and healthcare providers who are experiencing shortages of testing supplies are now able to obtain assistance from the State of California’s Testing Task Force. This local order follows action by the State of California and federal government to require health insurance companies to cover COVID-19 testing for their members.
“Without the participation of all healthcare providers in ensuring access to testing for those who need it most, we will not be able to protect the public from communicable diseases like COVID-19,” said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, the Santa Clara County COVID-19 Testing Officer. “As we continue to reopen activity in the community, ensuring everyone has access to testing will be critical to keep the community safe.”
Although access to testing has significantly increased in recent weeks, far more testing is needed. Countywide, there are currently more than 46 sites where residents can receive free COVID-19 tests. Over the past seven days, between 850 and 3,500 tests have been administered per day in the county, with an average of 2,354 tests per day. This is 120 tests per 100,000 residents.
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