With tenuous projections of a California COVID-19 peak occurring in mid-May, testing is expanding throughout the state in an effort to stay ahead of the curve.
In Sacramento, for example, the Google-owned Verily drive-thru testing service in Sacramento that opened in late March to ‘high-risk’ applicants has now expanded its eligibility criteria to allow any individual over the age of 18 to apply online. The county of Los Angeles has also recently expanded the criteria for their test scheduling service to allow any resident, regardless of risk level, to apply online to schedule a test.
Additionally The East Bay Times reported on Monday that California had cleared over 44,000 people from their ‘testing backlog’, dropping from approximately 59,000 patients awaiting testing for the virus to just over 15,000.
These moves are part of a recent push for increased COVID-19 testing in the state as a whole, following a period at the end of March in which California had a testing rate lower than over 50% of all US states, leading to negative media coverage.
“We are cobbling together various approaches,” Susan Butler, an associate professor at the University of Southern California, had commented to the LA Times. “The whole thing is badly discombobulated…. I think 100% that the system is broken.”
The surge that followed this nadir had increased the testing rate in California from 39 people tested per 100,000 to over 360. Despite this, however, California is still behind compared to the New York count of 1,748 tested per 100,000 or even to the national average of 596.
Governor Newsom expressed discontent with the state’s rate of testing in a recent press conference. “The testing space has been a challenging one for us, and I own that,” says Newsom, “and I have a responsibility as your governor to do better, and to do more testing in the state of California.”
Despite the lower testing rate, there is optimism that California’s early containment measures have proven effective, with some citing the low case, death, and hospitalization rates in California in comparison to states that took later preventative measures.
With the projected peak still weeks away, however, attention will continue to be turned to testing and medical resources for the time being.