County of San Mateo expands COVID-19 testing options

by Contributed Content on January 6, 2022

In response to the surge in the Omicron variant, the County of San Mateo is expanding opportunities for COVID-19 testing.

A new testing site, longer hours at certain existing sites and the distribution of home test kits to residents most at-risk are among the actions. These steps will roll out over the coming weeks as local health leaders seek to ensure the County maintains one of the highest per capita test rates in California.

“Our community’s safety is priority number one, and we are using available resources to help that many more residents know whether they are positive for COVID-19. We are not the only testing option for residents with private health providers or access to privately purchased tests, but we are proud to be an important part of helping stem the spread and prevent severe health impacts,” said County Manager Mike Callagy.

The County currently supports 10 sites that offer PCR laboratory tests with results available within 72 hours depending upon demand.  Current capacity is 8,500 tests per week and expanded hours at existing sites will add about 10 percent. Additionally, a new testing site at the Event Center can provide up to 2,000 tests per day. However, County testing only accounts for approximately 15 percent of all testing countywide and does not include data from at-home results.

“With a nationwide shortage of COVID tests now, particularly at pharmacies, this shows an incredible effort to do all we can as a County to meet the demand for testing and keep our residents safe from the Omicron variant,” Sup. David Canepa said. “Increasing capacity at the Event Center and other County testing sites will be a welcome relief for those who want to keep their families safe during this surge. This effort must and will continue until COVID and all of its variants are behind us.”

While County leaders are eager to share with the community the steps being taken, patience is appreciated as staffing shortages and shipping delays may impact operations.

What’s New

► Starting Friday, Jan. 7, 2022: A walk-in testing site operated by private vendor Virus Geeks will open in the San Mateo County Event Center parking lot (enter at 1346 Saratoga Drive, San Mateo) with the ability to provide 2,000 PCR tests daily. PCR tests typically return results within 72 hours. Appointments required through the Virus Geeks website. Those without an appointment will be turned away. NOTE: The Event Center vaccine clinic entrance will move to 2495 S. Delaware St., San Mateo.

► Starting Monday, Jan. 10, 2022: The County has contracted with Bay PLS to offer up to 500 rapid antigen tests daily at its existing San Bruno location. Appointments are required.

► The County is purchasing 50,000 home test kits for distribution through partner agencies to its most impacted and/or at-risk residents and first-responders. Each kit contains two rapid tests.

What’s Expanding

► Availability at the LHI/OptumServe site at the Ted Adcock Community Center in Half Moon Bay has increased from one to three days per week and the number of Wednesday appointments will grow from 132 to 258 for the rest of January. The new appointments should be available online next week.  These are PCR tests.

► The LHI/OptumServe site at the College of San Mateo, which runs five days a week, will increase from eight to 12 hours per day. The start date is to be determined, based on adequate staffing.

When Should I Get Tested?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend 1-3 days before a family gathering, or prior to any travel, even if you have no symptoms. Rapid antigen testing should be done 24 hours prior to a gathering or travel. PCR testing should be done within 72 hours – with results available prior to a gathering or travel.

County-supported test sites and schedules are at www.smcgov.org/testing. Residents should also check with health care providers and pharmacies for availability of both PCR and at-home rapid tests.

Residents should not visit local emergency rooms for non-scheduled COVID-19 testing.

What Else Should I Do?

► Get vaccinated, including a booster shot if eligible.  Adult and pediatric clinic locations & times here

► Wear a mask with good fit and filtration in ALL indoor public settings (including public transportation). N95 and KN95 or surgical masks do the best job filtering out viruses.

► Anyone feeling sick, even with mild symptoms (sore throat, cough, sniffles), should stay home, isolate from others, and get tested. Anyone confirmed positive for COVID should quarantine. Seek medical care if you experience respiratory difficulties.

For answers to other common questions about COVID-19 testing, go to https://cmo.smcgov.org/press-release/covid-19-what-you-need-know-today

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