San Mateo County Health urges residents to seek out testing and get vaccinated
Amid sharp increases in new COVID-19 cases during this holiday season, San Mateo County Health is urging residents to seek out testing and get vaccinated, especially those traveling or anticipating a return to in-person schooling.
Health officials attribute the increase to holiday gatherings and the more contagious Omicron variant. The risk of community transmission of COVID-19 is currently very high, with more than 2,000 new cases in the county last week.
“More people are infectious and spreading the virus indoors,” said County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Curtis Chan. “Taking these steps – limiting close contacts, wearing a mask indoors to prevent getting infected and infecting others, isolating when symptomatic, and getting tested – can reduce the likelihood of severe COVID affecting you, your family, and community.”
Testing: What is Available Where
There are two types of COVID-19 test: rapid antigen tests, which return results quickly, and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, which typically return results within 72 hours although times vary depending upon demand.
The County of San Mateo offers only PCR testing at 10 sites, which it operates through contracted providers Curative and LHI/OptumServe (locations listed below). The County is not distributing rapid antigen tests to the general public or cities.
The County-supported sites account for 10 to 15 percent of testing countywide with the remainder administered through health care providers, pharmacies and other testing companies. The County sites can provide 8,100 appointments per week, with most locations able to accommodate walk-up clients. Throughout December, the County sites administered less than 4,000 tests per week but spiked to 6,324 the week of Dec. 19 and remain high.
Rapid antigen testing in the form of home kits may be available from health care providers and pharmacies, although they are currently in short supply.
“The vaccine and booster are effective at preventing severe disease and preventing transmission of the virus,” he said. “We are grateful for everyone’s efforts to prevent transmission and outbreaks, which cause hospitalizations and deaths. If you have symptoms but can’t quickly visit a test site, you should mask and isolate yourself as much as possible. This will help prevent transmission of whichever respiratory virus you may have.”
The state of California gave County Health an initial distribution of 38,000 rapid antigen kits, which will be made available through the County Office of Education for students returning to class after the holidays. Schools serving lower-income families will be given priority.
Pediatric vaccine clinics (for children aged 5-11) at seven school sites throughout the county will be open to the public beginning on January 3. Residents can check MyTurn and the County Health’s vaccine clinic calendar for more information.
Vaccines: Where Can I Get One?
The Event Center booster and first- and second-dose vaccine clinic for individuals 12+ will re-open on Jan. 4. The clinic is a walk-up, not drive-through, operation. Participants will park and enter Redwood Hall for the vaccination. The clinic will be open on Tuesdays (noon to 7:00 pm) and Wednesdays through Saturdays (9:00 am to 4:00 pm). Appointments via MyTurn are preferred, but participants may also come without an appointment.
Vaccines and boosters are available at other locations throughout the county at community clinics, local pharmacies and health care providers. Find availability and appointments through MyTurn, pharmacy chain websites, and County Health’s vaccine clinic calendar.