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Santa Clara County working to target COVID-19 testing in hardest-hit areas

Original post made on May 15, 2020

Bolstered by improved testing capacity and scientific research, a new Santa Clara County COVID-19 testing task force rolled out plans on Thursday to start testing more widely for the coronavirus.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 15, 2020, 1:13 PM

Comments (16)

10 people like this
Posted by Robyn
a resident of another community
on May 15, 2020 at 2:46 pm

If arguably the best and the brightest of Silicon Valley cannot get this done, we are doomed.
It has been two months of shutdown. Money is being thrown at the problem with minimal results. It is mindboggling.

8 people like this
Posted by SC Parent
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 15, 2020 at 2:58 pm

I can think of several reasons why people aren't signing up for the tests:
1) The County hasn't clearly stated that "anyone" can get tested.
2) Their testing web site reads like a propaganda press release; it's not written at all from the perspective of a resident trying to get clear information on how and where to get tested.
3) The bulk of the public testing (e.g., not through your medical provider/hospital or as a front-line employee) is provided by Verily Project Baseline (owned by Alphabet/Google) at Santa Clara County Fairgrounds and PAL Stadium, which requires an intrusive amount of personal/health information before they even say IF you can get tested.

Even the DMV's appointment system is better than the County's!

11 people like this
Posted by Mike94040
a resident of Gemello
on May 15, 2020 at 4:18 pm

I'm not clear why the first county to experience a Covid-19 case is doing so poorly in testing. LA is doing over 10,000 a day. Is county staff using any creativity at all in finding the supplies it needs, as did Maryland in contracting with a Korean company directly. Can any of our major Tech companies help.

The County is being held hostage in a sense because the Public Health officials won't start lifting the Shelter in Place order until we have better testing (the right thing to do) but then the same officials have apparently dropped the ball on making testing available, throughout the County. And who wants to drive 30 miles for a test only to find a 2 hour line or get turned away as former Supervisor Kniss was last week.

17 people like this
Posted by MVResident
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 15, 2020 at 8:04 pm

Time for Sara Cody to go. She was a one trick pony, getting the initial SIP right ahead of many others (though cases were still in our community months before she realized it) but that's it. Every step since then - while she was busy doing national press - has been wrong. We're 9 weeks in and we're just now increasing testing (capacity has not been a problem) and hiring contact tracers. Meanwhile, new cases in the entire county of ~2 million have dropped to the single digits (and many of those in nursing homes. Her suggestion that conditions are the same as in March borders on criminal. Sara just can't give up control.

9 people like this
Posted by Prioritization
a resident of Cuernavaca
on May 15, 2020 at 11:58 pm

Testing skilled nursing facility workers once every 2 weeks (and patients every 5 weeks) seems highly does testing health care workers and first responders just once a month.

If the County wants to make progress getting to 4,000/day, then why not commit more tests to those critical functions?

Like this comment
Posted by hotspot at the White House
a resident of Cuernavaca
on May 16, 2020 at 8:24 am

> Testing ... workers once every 2 weeks

People at the White House get tested daily. Visitors must get tested prior to entry.

Like this comment
Posted by Sue
a resident of another community
on May 16, 2020 at 10:52 am

When I got tested at James Lick High School a swab was inserted into my right nostril and retracted immediately. I'm now reading they are supposed to leave it in for 15 seconds, then do the other nostril. This location does not appear to be testing properly. Training needs to be more widespread for those conducting these tests or the numbers will be affected, not to mention the money wasted on inaccurate testing.

5 people like this
Posted by Prioritization
a resident of Cuernavaca
on May 16, 2020 at 11:59 am

Sorry to disagree with an above poster, but Dr. Cody is a local hero. Her actions have saved hundreds of lives, and perhaps thousands of hospitalizations.

While we had one single-digit positive infection day recently, most days have been in the 20-30 new positives range. This is essentially the same level as when shelter-in-place was enacted in mid-March.

We've done an outstanding job of "flattening" to ensure hospitals and doctors did not be come overwhelmed, with a need for auxiliary beds in places like the convention center.

Yet, people are still dying, there remains no treatment or vaccine, and the prevalence of the virus is still at a level where it could exponentially spike in several weeks. A resurgence that requires starting all over again would be more devastating than riding this out a bit longer.

Thank you, Dr. Cody. Please continue to prioritize the health of our community.

14 people like this
Posted by MVResident
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 16, 2020 at 12:31 pm

@Prioritization - You're entitled to your own opinion about Dr. Cody, but not your own facts and data. Since May 1, the new case counts have been 25, 9, 9, 21, 24, 28, 13, 21, 8, 3, 8, 5, 4, 0. So more "single digit" days than not, and now, a clear downward trend approaching zero. Looking at the numbers from March, starting March 11 lowest single day count was in the 20s, with many days approaching 80. So clearly NOT anywhere close to the same, especially when you consider that we were testing under 1/3rd the number of people that we are testing today. Looking at it another way, today we have a <1% positive rate, when back in March the rate was >10%. Trying to equate the two time periods is ridiculous.

Credit goes to our community at large, which has taken physical distancing and good hygiene quite seriously. As to the risks of opening up, we can look at Georgia, Florida, and Texas. Our experts predicted each of these would see massive waves - yet the their effective infection reproduction rates have not spiked (and actually remain about on par with California).

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Posted by hotspot at the White House
a resident of Cuernavaca
on May 16, 2020 at 12:51 pm


What should be the trigger to shut down again for the next wave? 20 cases a day for a week? A 2 week upward trend?

Follow what the professionals say? Do you even care?

They came close to shutting down the White House for 2 cases (suddenly required masks for everyone except potus, tests for all, quarantined potus and Pnce from each other, etc..)

Like this comment
Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on May 16, 2020 at 12:59 pm

This all sounds promising, but also rather extreme. Are they saying they need a campaign like the Blue Diamond Almonds "A can a week is all we ask." "A test a month is all we ask." Talking about 12,000 tests a day is pretty bad if there
are under 10 new cases per day. Some of the numbers seem to suggest more
like 70,000 tests per day, which would test everyone in the county once per month.

11 people like this
Posted by MVResident
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 16, 2020 at 1:16 pm

@hotspot at the white house - the trigger for ratcheting back down would be a spike in the rate of infections, such that Rt begins to approach 1, or if we see a material increase in hospitalizations. That's when things could get out of control. The professionals have written extensively on these approaches - As a professional Dr. Cody should be well-versed in these considerations, which is why it is puzzling that she keeps spouting emotionally charged rhetoric rather than discuss the data and a real plan.

As we have seen in other states, a controlled, modest reopening where people continue to practice physical distancing and spend as much time as possible outdoors, maybe even with a face covering requirement, will mitigate the risk of super spreader events. Keep in mind that vaccine develop is a slow, uncertain process - so the real question for Cody is do we stay in this same posture indefinitely? That's not workable without risking thousands of lives to other risks.

To your point about the white house, that is a VERY close quarters environment with terrible ventilation. It's not a surprise that the virus is spreading there, even without the associated political perspectives/denial that will exacerbate the problem by not taking sensible precautions.

2 people like this
Posted by Prioritization
a resident of Cuernavaca
on May 16, 2020 at 2:28 pm

@ MV Resident

Those are not the daily new case counts. Those are the counts 'attributable' to those recent days.

When a count comes out for yesterday (18) as an example, that doesn't get reported as May 15th, but gets distributed back to the day the person was tested/infected. So, the 5 most recent days will continue to see additions over the next 5-7 days.

The most accurate gauge of progress is to look at the number of new positives reported each day as it's announced that day on the data page. And those, as I stated, have been mostly in the 20-30 range the past week or so.

The County (probably a trickle-down from the State) went to this new way of reporting about 3 weeks ago.

2 people like this
Posted by Prioritization
a resident of Cuernavaca
on May 16, 2020 at 2:37 pm

@MV Resident

I'd also add that while it's encouraging the positive rate is so low, part of that is due to:

a) back in March, testing was scarce, and one had to be exhibiting major symptoms to qualify for testing (and even some with symptoms were told to just stay home).

b) today, testing is being broadly encouraged...even for those with no symptoms. I also presume some of the testing may be from the same folks (essential workers?) who as a precaution are being tested multiple times.

Since one of the metrics to move on to the next phase is 4,000 tests/day, if I were a conspiracy theorist - which I'm not - one could see a scenario where some folks are just getting tested to bump the number up to 4,000. But I'll assume that's not happening.

13 people like this
Posted by MVResident
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 16, 2020 at 2:52 pm

@Prioritization - I understand how the county publishes the testing numbers and the effect it produces on the recent days' numbers shifting over time. The reason they do this is because it is more reliable to look at the number of cases associated with the day of the test, rather than the number of new "reported" cases based on when the results are received. But regardless of your perspective, we are splitting hairs in a way that isn't relevant to the main point, which is that the situation today IS NOT not even close to the situation was back in March.

As the article above notes and the county folks have been emphasizing for the last week, the issue is not testing capacity - its the number of SCC residents who are willing to having a nasal swap even though they are asymptomatic. Cody's team had weeks to roll out PR and develop a strategy to bring the # of actual tests up. Yet they haven't, and the result is that SCC residents are the ones who will suffer from this failure, as reflected in the growing lines at the San Jose food bank, among others.

4 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 16, 2020 at 8:54 pm

Arbitrary testing is not going to be that useful. SCC needs to have a coherent and targeted testing strategy to effectively cover all SCC households weekly. Getting to 4000 tests/day is a good and necessary step in that direction. There are published strategies about how to use that testing capacity to enable a safe reopening of our economy, for example:

Web Link

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