Santa Clara County officials issued a public health order Wednesday requiring healthcare providers to increase the accessibility and speed of COVID-19 testing. The order, which goes into effect Sept. 25, states:
People with COVID-19 symptoms, those who report that they have been exposed, and anyone referred by the countyâs Public Health Department must be given testing âat the time the patient presents for care.â For those requesting a test online or over the phone, an appointment must be given by the end of the next day.
All essential workers, even if asymptomatic, must be provided with a test within three days. However, healthcare providers can require that an essential worker wait 14 days between tests.
Test results must be provided within a maximum of three days.
Penalties for noncompliance range as high as $5,000 per incident.
âTesting is really foundational to our ability to prevent COVID,â said Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody, during a press conference Wednesday.
The order also requires that healthcare providers better publicize the availability of testing and make the process âeasy and straightforward.â
âWe are grateful that the county has announced an order that is going to demolish the labyrinth that too many of our residents have found themselves in,â when seeking testing, said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.
Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco described his experience seeking a COVID-19 test from Kaiser Permanente as âfrustrating, discouragingâ and âburdensome.â He called for increased testing âso that we can open up our businesses, open up our schools and open up our faith community.â
Kaiser has made and continues to make “major investments in equipment, resources and people” to expand its testing capacity, according to a statement from Irene Chavez, senior vice president and area manager of Kaiser Permanente San Jose.
“We are committed to making testing timely and accessible for our members. We are following the direction of the California Department of Public Health and Department of Managed Health Care and are in compliance with state orders on testing in California,” Chavez said.
A compliance and enforcement team including attorneys from the County Counsel’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office will investigate complaints of noncompliance, which can be reported online, said county counsel James Williams.
â Monica Lam (@monicazlam)