Two free coronavirus testing sites set to open in Santa Rosa, Petaluma on Tuesday
A pair of state-funded COVID-19 testing sites marking Sonoma County’s largest testing effort to date will open Tuesday in Santa Rosa and Petaluma, offering free tests to all county residents, regardless of age, risk factors or symptoms.
The new effort, which will enable up to 260 tests daily by appointment between the two sites, represents another step toward the county’s overall target of 600 to 800 tests per day, a key benchmark needed to track community spread of the coronavirus and facilitate wider reopening of the economy.
The local sites, at Santa Rosa High School and the Petaluma campus of Santa Rosa Junior College, are among 80 statewide that will be run by OptumServe, a nationwide health services company.
“Thanks to Sonoma County and to OptumServe for the collaboration to make these testing sites possible,” Dr. Charity Dean, assistant director of the state Department of Public Health, said in a written statement. “We’re working together as part of the state’s Testing Task Force to ensure regions with the greatest need have access to tests, and these sites are going to be a major component in reaching our testing goals.”
Another six sites statewide are part of Project Baseline, a COVID-19 testing project by Verily, a research organization connected to Google.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state carefully chose the 86 testing sites based on a heat map that identified so-called “testing deserts.” The governor’s goal was to limit drive time for testing to an hour or less, but also to ensure equity in access to testing.
“The state is trying to be able to meet the demand for each individual county,” said state Sen. Mike McGuire, demurring over whether Sonoma County represented a testing desert in the eyes of the state. “There are still gaps in the system.”
McGuire, whose district stretches to the Oregon border, said he’s working to get a testing site in Mendocino County. He said more rural stretches of the North Coast present a particular challenge for meeting the hour’s drive benchmark.
A testing site at Redwood Acres Fairgrounds in Humboldt County was among the first in the state to open.
There’s another in the Canal District in San Rafael, McGuire said.
Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Susan Gorin said the two Sonoma County sites, because they’ll allow testing for even asymptomatic residents, will help county health leaders get a better idea of how the coronavirus is moving through the area.
She said she’d like to see more sites opened throughout the county.
Authorities have repeatedly stressed that appointments are required for those wishing to be tested at Santa Rosa High School and SRJC’s Petaluma campus. No drive-up tests are offered.
Residents can go to https://lhi.care/covidtesting or call 1-888-634-1123 to schedule an appointment, and will be required to provide a variety of personal information, including age, gender, race, ethnicity and insurance information.
Tests are free for those without insurance, and those with insurance will likely face no out-of-pocket expense based on guidance issued April 11 by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the U.S. Labor and Treasury departments.
County officials were not able to say Monday how many people had signed for appointments so far or how quickly the results would available. OptumServe will send tests to Quest Labs, which then uploads results to CalREDIE, a website that state and local health officials have access to, according to a county spokeswoman.
Statewide, OptumServe is expected to be able to boost testing capacity by 10,500 per day, according to the release. The company, in an email, directed questions about site locations and costs to the state.
The state Department of Public Health provided the state’s contracts with Verily, showing California has agreed to pay up to $3.45 million to the group for seven testing sites in Sherman Oaks, as well as San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sacramento, Stockton and San Francisco counties. No information was provided on the state’s contract with OptumServe.
The new testing sites in Sonoma County will bolster county-led targeted testing for health care providers and first responders, as well as testing at the county jail, skilled nursing facilities and homeless shelters.
Medical providers are handling their own testing at clinics, hospitals and medical offices.
You can reach Staff Writer Tyler Silvy at 707-526-8667 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter ?@tylersilvy.